Celebrating Reformation Day

Celebrating Reformation Day

I have shared a Biblical perspective post on Halloween which I recently republished, but today I want to share something wonderful that we as Christians can celebrate on October 31st!

Reformation Day! A day worth celebrating.

I love how my friend Lindsey from Road to 31 put it:

We celebrate Reformation Day because it represents the reclaiming of the one true gospel that had been lost in the Catholic church and replaced with the traditions and teachings of men. We celebrate that there were men who were willing to face the wrath and judgment of man rather than violate conscience according to the Holy Spirit and Scripture. We celebrate the boldness to proclaim the truth of God in the face of very real and present danger. We celebrate the movement that placed the Word of God in the hands of believers, to study for themselves so they could be taught by God Himself, rather than having to take the priests word as gospel. We celebrate Reformation Day because it is yet one more testament to the faithfulness of God.

I so agree with her, there are real and true reasons for celebration here.

How our Family Celebrates:

Each year our family looks forward to attending a Reformation Celebration put on by a local ministry in our area. If you live in the East Tennessee area it’s Castle Ministry, and you can find out more information about them in the link.

The celebration could be done on a smaller scale by a family or on a larger scale by a church or ministry. The event we attend begins with Reformation Themed games and activities on the lawn. Here are a few of the games and activities my girls enjoyed.

Building a Mighty Fortress : block building for the little ones

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Coloring on the Wartberg Castle: another huge hit with my little crew.

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5 Solas Toss: basically it’s a bean bag toss with 5 chances; the children are told about and quizzed on what the 5 solas are as they toss their bean bags

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Sword fighting: Some good old fashioned foam sword fighting. My big girls loved this!

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Pin the 95 Thesis on the door: It’s similar to “pin the tale on the donkey”, blind fold and spin then send them off to the door

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Hide the Heretic: finding the Reformers (called “heretics” by the Catholic Church) in a haystack

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Here’s a little look around at the Castle. There was also facepainting and people dressed up as the Reformers telling their stories. The children could go up into the tower to meet Martin Luther and his wife and hear their story.

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There is also a pot luck meal, family dance, bonfire, smores, and hymn singing. Castle Ministry does a wonderful job putting all of this together!

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At home we teach our children about the Reformation with these books and others:

(affiliate links)

This is a great story by RC Sproul, written from the perspective of a barber who learns to pray by asking Martin Luther questions about prayer. It’s great in two ways: first it gives great historical content about Martin Luther and what he did, and secondly it gives sound Biblical teaching on prayer in a way that a child can understand.

Little Lights books are great for young children and bigger children. I love that they have small bold sentences on one side for new readers to try, and then a paragraph for an adult to read to them. We have all of the Little Lights books except the CS Lewis book because we didn’t care for their spin on him, but they are all wonderful! 

Biographies for Young Readers books are probably my favorite! We are still working on our collection because they are a little pricey (about $18 a book, but so worth it!). They are beginner chapter picture books; perfect for about second grade and up. We have 5 of them and love each one, I have the rest of them on our family library wish list. They are very thorough and encouraging even to my own heart.

Luther3DWe’ve also greatly enjoyed this Martin Luther DVD (it’s free to watch for amazon prime members!) You can purchase them on amazon (aff. link) or through Torchlighters (They also have coloring and activity sheets to go with the dvds on their site). We love all of their DVDs in this series. They are a breath a fresh air for our family because finding edifying children’s shows is quite the challenge, but these definitely make the cut. They say for older children, but my children enjoy them from about 3 years old and up. I do recommend watching with your child and explaining what is happening the first time through. They make for wonderful discussions!

I may come back to this post and add to this list because I have more to share, but I’m short on time.

Happy Reformation Day! 

Why We Homeschool

why we homeschool

I’m very excited to share why we homeschool, but before I dive in I want to make it very clear that although we arrived at the decision to homeschool through the direction of the Holy Spirit through the Scriptures, I do not believe homeschool to be Scripturally mandated or required of all Christians at all. In other words this is a Biblically based preference that our family holds to.  I’ve talked with many Christ exalting families about their education choices and I love to hear their thoughts, they have some good ones! Ultimately I believe the most important thing we can do when making education decisions for our children is to pray for wisdom, look at God’s Word, and examine how our choice will help facilitate our children to know and walk with the Lord Jesus Christ and to equip them to serve Him for life in whatever He may call them to. I believe the absolute worst thing we can do is to just “go with the flow” and do what everyone else is doing simply because they are doing it or because it’s what has always been done. It’s okay to go against the grain, it’s okay to be different, and it’s even okay to do something different than was done for you.

I never wanted to be a homeschool mom.

I will be really honest, growing up I thought the homeschool kids were weird (I should clarify that this was before I was a Christ follower).  When I only had the first two girls, myself still young in the faith, they were little toddlers, and I planned to get a job as soon as all my kids started school. I wanted them to have all the fun experiences of going to school: first day of school excitement, back packs, lockers, school basketball games, and bus rides. I also wanted the experience of having a break every day and doing something “more important” with my time, like having a job or pursuing goals and dreams, or maybe even ministry. Sending them to school just made sense! (This was clearly unBiblical thinking, but I didn’t see it then).

But God.

The Lord changed my heart. When I examined my desires I began to see that I was thinking only of temporal things that really will not matter in the end. What did I really want for my children more than anything: I wanted these children to know and love the Lord! As I began to examine God’s Word, I began to see that He had been perfectly equipping me as the best person for the job of teaching and training their minds and hearts. And I was certainly willing to sacrifice my time and energy (possibly even my sanity on some days) if necessary.

I’m fully aware that homeschooling can not guarantee that my children will know and love the Lord, that is something only God can do! And I diligently pray for Him to do that. But I want to be wise, and I know that wisdom comes from the Lord. And the Lord led me to these Scriptures (shared below) to call me into this amazing job of homeschooling my children, I trust Him and will obey what He has commanded me by His grace and through the power of His Spirit within me.

However, I hang all my homeschooling efforts on this one verse:

Unless the Lord builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the Lord guards the city,
The watchman keeps awake in vain. 
-Psalm 127:1

The Lord has called me to labor to build my home and train my children, also to be a guard over my children’s souls, but all of this is in vain if the Lord does not build the house! He does the work, and anything I do apart from Him is nothing!

So Here is Why we Homeschool:

 

    • To give Christ centered education

Romans 11:36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
I really like the way it reads in NLT: For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen
First and foremost the Lord has placed on our hearts to make our lives and all we do centered on Christ because all things are centered on Him. This includes education! We want to teach them through the lens of the Scripture and with the purpose of bringing glory to Christ. I feel like our home is the best option for us to do this. There are some wonderful Christian schools out there that do this very well, but we feel homeschool is a better fit for us due to the other reasons below.
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    • To train them in the way they should go

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it
The eight hours a day that children are in school are hours of training, and there are way too many things that I can’t train my children in properly if they are away in school for those hours being trained in another way. The goals that I find in Scripture to pursue with my children will be easiest to pursue if they are with me in the home. Especially with having daughters, part of training them in the way they should go is training them with the life-skills of managing a home well. They will be at a huge disadvantage if they are gone during the work hours of the day. I want them to watch me and to participate in homemaking. In their older years I would like for them to participate in ministry and service to the body as well as learning a trade or possibly starting a small business which are things we see the Proverbs 31 woman doing. Whether the Lord calls them to ministry, marriage, motherhood, work, or all, I want them to be fully equipped and trained. The home is the perfect environment for all of this!

    • to not exasperate them

Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
I truly feel that traditional school can be exasperating for children because of the worldly influences that they will inevitably be exposed to. It is very exasperating to have household rules based on Scripture while the world through friends or teachers is shaping a child’s thoughts. Even in private Christian settings I fear I would run into this dilemma. Children from many different backgrounds, training, and denominations may attend a Christian school; and children are not yet capable of choosing friends wisely. Goodness, this can be hard for even me, so I know it is a hard task for kids. They also believe everything they are told and lack discernment. I just don’t think it is right or fair to ask this of my kids until they have been properly trained and equipped to battle the lies of the world which are so often disguised as “christian” and/or true. And as I explained above, I need this time during the day to fully bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. This job was given to the fathers and as my husband’s helpmeet, it is also given to me. I don’t feel right about handing off this job to another unless there was an extenuating circumstance such as an illness or a death (I pray not, but these things can happen) or something of that nature making homeschool an impossibility for us.

    • to guard their hearts

Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
All of our actions come from what is in our hearts, the same is true for our children. There is already sin in their hearts and it comes out in their actions, but the more that false thinking and wrong influences get in, the more that those sinful actions will grow. Conversely, the more that Scripture and right thinking are put into their hearts, the more their conviction over that sin will grow because that is God speaking to us and His Word is living and active (even in kids!) Also, I can not fully guard their hearts or teach them how to guard their own hearts if I’m away from them for 8 hours each day. I will have absolutely no idea what is being put in there. The best way for me to guard their hearts with diligence is to be with them.

Dear Christ-following Moms,

I encourage you to begin praying now: “Lord give me wisdom, discernment, and clarity from your Word in regards to choosing education for my children.” Seek out the wisdom of God which is only found in His Word to make this life-changing decision for your kids. You may not arrive at homeschool, you may find a private Christian school to be a better option for you. If your child is a strong professing believer who has been well taught and has a solid foundation of Christ Jesus in the Word, then you may even find that your child desires to be “a public school missionary” (I personally would only recommend this for high school, the younger years are too impressionable.) Whatever you do, don’t make this decision without prayer and seeking out what God would have you to do in the Bible.  Every thing we do in life, we should be able to say, “I was lead to do this because of what the Lord has shown me in His Word…” If you can’t say that right now about the educational decisions you have made, then please be encouraged to start now, it is never too late to begin making your parenting decisions according to the wisdom of God!

For your further Pursuit

*  Proverbs 13:20  *  Deuteronomy 11:18-19  *  Joel 1:3  *

*  2 Timothy 3:15  *  Deuteronomy 6:7-9  *  Psalm 71:17  *

*  I love the thoughts from this guest post on Road to 31 in regards to reasons Christian families homeschool.  *

*  Confessions of a Homeschooler has been a very helpful resource for me, especially when starting out! She has wonderful printables, ideas, and free rescources. Here is her post on why she homeschools her children.   *

*  I have recently also shared why I year round school as a guest post over at My Joy Filled Life if you would like to read more of my homeschooling thoughts and perspectives on education.  *

Family Bible Time

family Bible time

It’s one of my favorite times of the day! It may have been a stressful and long day or a busy day full of housework and homeschooling, but at this time each day we quiet ourselves and gather around the table as a whole family to seek the face of the Lord. My husband begins to read from God’s Word and it washes over us like a cup of cool water! So refreshing! This is a cherished time that I look forward to each day, anticipating and knowing that the Lord will presence Himself among us as we seek Him together in His Word!

Today I’m sharing  the practical side of how we do it over at My Joy Filled Life. I’m excited to be giving some tips and encouragement that hopefully could help get your family started or to help improve upon what you are already doing.

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I’ll also be sharing one of our most used Bible memory resources for children.Bible3d

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For your further pursuit:

We  as a family have been encouraged listening to Paul Washer preach through some of the catechism questions to the children at his home church. These sermons are shorter and preached towards children. They are excellent! Encourage your children to take notes if they are old enough, and encourage the younger ones to listen quietly, pushing pause periodically to ask them questions to help them understand.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10

Enjoy!

Preparing for Childbirth and Overcoming Fears

preparing for childbirth and overcoming fears

Recently in my life:

Our house is in a state of excitement as we have begun preparing for the arrival of our fourth child.

I can hardly believe that I’m in week 36! It’s truly the home-stretch!

I’m enjoying the process once again. Packing hospital bags, writing the birth plan, little gifts and cards from friends and family are everywhere (thank you all!), newborn diapers, and bassinets, and sleepers, and boppy pillows are being brought out. There’s so much to be thankful for!

I know that there is one big day, one big hurdle still standing between this time of preparation and the time when I’m holding, cuddling, and nursing this new sweet little one….

Childbirth.

As I sat down last night to write my birth plan, I felt the need to pray and ask the Lord to help me in these decisions. I have been praying for the past months about this very thing.  I need His help! Help for wisdom, help for peace, help to trust in the freedom and mercy He has given, help to not be a “people pleaser”, but instead to make decisions that are right for us.

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I know that ultimately, even as I write a birth plan that I am on His plan. He knows exactly how my birth will go; when it will be and what will take place. I can rest in trusting Him and knowing that all His ways are good…. even if they are not what I would have chosen.

I have felt a great peace to know that He has placed me in a position to be able to make educated decisions concerning our birthing choices. He has given us options, and I’m thankful for that as I know this isn’t the case for many.

Natural or Not?

I like natural things, but I don’t feel married to them. At the end of the day, the only thing I feel passionately joined with is Christ, and that is how it should be.

I struggled when I first got pregnant with this one wondering if I was required under Biblical obligation to do this birth (and all future births) natural, the way I did with the last. When I really searched the Scriptures what I came to was that, no…. I didn’t HAVE to do it that way. I felt a sense of relief because to be honest, although it was a good experience, it was also an experience that I don’t really care to repeat unless I have to. I know that others have their own preferences on childbirth and what they feel “called” to, but this is my preference. And since it is not clearly laid out in Scripture, I feel freedom to choose medication this time around.

Fearing What Others Think…. and Yes, this fear is sin.

I almost felt that there was an unsaid expectation from everyone that once you go natural you can never go back to a medicated birth.

Unlike this past birth when I was  fighting the sin of fear (lack of trust in the Lord) of the pain and the unknown, this time I was fearful of what others would think of me. I wondered, if I decided to use some form of medical pain management will people think badly of me? What will my friends who are passionate natural birth advocates think, will they judge me or think less of me? What will people who tried to talk me out of doing it natural last time think, will they  scoff and think they were “right after all”?

Freedom from Fear once Again

The Lord has been so good to show me through His Word and His Spirit that this sinful fear I had been having stems from two major heart problems on my behalf that needed serious repenting of.

1. Pride, wanting people to think highly of me.

2. Not resting in my security and freedom in Christ that He has graciously given me.

With my last birth I was convinced that the Lord had called me to a natural birth, and I still feel that He had. I didn’t view it as a requirement as much as I viewed it as an opportunity for growth. It definitely was that! It was a good experience for me, a hard one, but a good thing. You can read that birth story here. I have no regrets that I went natural with my last.

The sinful fear I fought when preparing for the natural birth stemmed from a lack of trust in Him to sustain me through the pain. I had to pray through that, repent of that, and entered into that birth fully trusting in Him. And He was gracious to meet me and care for me the whole way through! Even when I thought I couldn’t go on, He gave me the strength I needed to do so.

But this time, I don’t feel so convinced that He is calling me to do it that way again. I feel that I learned what the Lord had for me during that time, and that He has something else for me this time. I trust the Lord, and if it works out that this is another natural birth then I know it was what He wanted and I will rejoice in that, but as I write my birth plans this time around I feel free to enjoy the mercies of the Lord by allowing me access to modern medicine. Without fearing what others will think of me.

The Lord’s approval is the only approval I need!

He has approved me because of the works of His Son fulfilling the law and becoming the sacrifice atoning for my sin! And I don’t need validation from others, my security in Him is more than enough! 

Isn’t it amazing how sanctifying birth can be! It reveals our sins of fear. We can repent. He is faithful and just to forgive!

Oh how my heart rejoices at this!

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Dear Expecting Mom,

You should not walk in fear! Fear and anxiety are signs that you lack trust in God to be enough for you in all circumstances.

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” -Matthew 6:34

Perhaps you are preparing for childbirth and you are fearful of the pain, possibilities of complications, the unknown. Sister, you must trust the Lord! Childbirth is not a time for pride and self-reliance, that will only leave you fearful! it is a time to depend on Him to be your strength and to trust in His perfect design for birth and trust in His plans for you that He will use them for your sanctification and joy. Cast your anxieties on Him!

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” –1 Peter 5:6-7

Possibly you are like I have been this time around and needing to take thoughts captive in regards to what others think. Fear of man is an idol! Get rid of it! Feeling obligated to make certain decisions that you don’t really HAVE to because of what others would think is worshiping the opinions of people. We women are pretty prone to this as God has placed a desire in us to please our husbands (which is right and good), but let me encourage you to examine your heart, when we care too much what others think it is always because of pride. It stems from a desire to be lifted up, and truthfully our pride will always have the opposite effect.

One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor. -Proverbs 29:23

“The fear of man lays a snare,
but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe.
Many seek the face of a ruler,
but it is from the LORD that a man gets justice.” -Proverbs 29:25-26

Remember beloved sisters, no pain, no trauma, no loss, no disapproval of friends or family, no slanderous words towards us from the mouths of people, nothing…..can separate us from the love of Christ!

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. -Romans 8:3-39

For your further Pursuit:

*  Isaiah 41:10  *  Philippians 4:6-7  *  Psalm 56:3  *  2 Timothy 1:7  *

*  Psalm 34:4  *  Proverbs 12:25  *  Psalm 23:4  *  Psalm 27:1-14  *

*  Psalm 118:6  *  Romans 8:1-39  *  Isaiah 26:3  *  Matthew 10:28  *

Photos by Sunkissed Smiles Photography

Mothers Your Work is Eternal Work

eternal work

Dear Mothers,

You have one of the most difficult and most wonderful jobs given.
It’s not insignificant work, in fact it is eternal work.
What you do each day inside the four walls of your house will affect so much!
You are influencing your children’s hearts moment by moment.
You have a chance to point them to Christ in the middle of messes, play, discipline, and cuddles.
30 years from now, your laundry and dishes piles will be much smaller, and your children will be much bigger. And today you can train them in the way they should go.
300 hundred years from now you and your children will be consumed with one thing and one thing only, and it’s a much bigger deal than laundry and dishes.
In 300 years we will all be thinking about the glory of Christ…. some around His throne in beauty and fullness of joy, and others with great regret in agony and turmoil.
But today you can focus your heart on Him, and point your children’s hearts to Him.

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Don’t be deceived to think what you do today will not affect them then, it will.
Point them to Christ! He is the one thing our hearts need most, and He is the one thing your child needs most!

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And Mamas, this is not adding to your to-do list…. this is the thing you must do while you do the to-do list. And if you can’t do this and that at the same time, then that other thing is the thing that must go because remember this is eternal work.

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Amidst your seemingly mundane work of kissing booboos, teaching phonics, potty training, nursing, remember what your real work is.
Pray for your children continually to know and love Christ, live your life in a way that points to the redeeming power of the Lord, and proclaim the Gospel to your children as often as you can, rejoice in the Lord before their very eyes. This is your real work that God has given you and there is an eternal reward.

“Those who think that a woman detained at home by her little family is doing nothing, think the reverse of what is true. Scarcely can the godly mother quit her home for a place of worship; but dream not that she is lost to the work of the church; far from it, she is doing the best possible service for her Lord. Mothers, the godly training of your offspring is your first and most pressing duty. Christian women, by teaching the children the Holy Scriptures, are as much fulfilling their part for the Lord, as Moses in judging Israel, or Solomon in building the temple. “Seek first His kingdom, set your minds on the things above, fix your eyes on Jesus.” While a truly God besought mother and wife may be one of the most unnoticed overlooked posts in the eyes of the world, there will be a day when its eternal significance will be brought to light and no sacrifice will seem too great, nor any negligence seem so small.”  -C.H. Spurgeon

Celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus

celebrating the resurrection of Jesus

Happy Resurrection Day, sweet readers!

Of all the holidays on the calendar, Resurrection Sunday is the one most worth celebrating. There is nothing more significant in all of time than the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God! So it is right that we celebrate! It is right that we worship!

Because He is alive, because He is risen, everything has changed!

Because He is alive, we can be made alive!

We were dead in our trespasses and sins

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.  (Eph. 2:1-3)

But God made us alive together with Christ

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Eph. 2:4-7)

Because of these amazing truths Resurrection Sunday never gets old. The Gospel never gets old. The Gospel is like oxygen for the Christian soul. When you are born and take your first breath, it’s oxygen that brings you life, it never gets old, we never stop breathing, and the more we cherish life, the deeper we sigh to breathe in. The Gospel is this way, it only gets more precious and more amazing as we grow closer to the one who saved us.

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I hope you had an amazing day celebrating our risen King!

Rejoice! He is risen!!!!

 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ (Luke 24:6-7)

holy week story stones 

Overcoming Disorganization and Poor Timemanagement

SAMSUNGThe picture above is just a pic of my girls crafting, but this picture is what my life feels like when I am not fighting the good fight to overcome disorganization and poor time-management. I have struggled with disorder and lack of self-discipline my whole life! For as long as I can remember organization and punctuality and doing proper things at the proper time where just not my forte. I was diagnosed with A.D.D. in third grade and from there on figured I had a pretty good excuse for my struggle with disorganization and poor time-management. Interestingly enough, God’s Word says nothing about this (possibly fake and made up) disability. It says plenty about prudence, discipline, hard work, and order, especially in the Proverbs.  As I have grown in the Lord, I have also grown to understand that He has called me to do things decently and in order. This is still a struggle to this day! I’ve made many strides of improvement over the years. Sometimes this struggle is three steps forward and one step back, but I am slowly but surely progressing in this by the power of the Holy Spirit within me.  I continually must strive to die to the deeds of my flesh and to let His Spirit reign in this department of my life.

 

It is in fact a sin

“Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger,disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” -Galatians 5:19-21

I’ll never forget the day in a Biblical counselling session that I was challenged on the deed of the flesh known as sensuality. This wise man explained to me that this was not about sex, which most people assume it is…. instead it is about living a life that is ruled by your senses, the way you feel. He explained, “You feel tired when you get up, so you sit around and don’t get to your tasks…. then you feel like doing something fun, so you neglect your work and do the fun thing….. then you don’t feel like doing the particular task assigned for the moment, so you decide to do a different task that suits your liking better….. and in the evenings you aren’t really feeling tired so you don’t lay down and go to sleep. You are being controlled by the way you feel. That is sensuality.” You know what all this really boils down to? Selfishness! It is me-centered living! It is not living for the Lord, for my husband, or for my children….. it is living for me. OUCH, right? When I saw this was sin, I immediately began to confess because I know that the Lord is faithful and just to forgive me, but I also felt this desperation because I felt that freedom from it was near impossible for someone like me! I really began to understand the words of Paul, “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” (Romans 7:15)

I’ve been on this journey to overcome this sin for quite a while, and there are a few things of value that I’ve learned along the way. If you are trying to overcome this same sin struggle, then perhaps these can help you as well.

Saying “NO” to excuses & psychology

For a long time I believed I had some pretty good excuses for why I procrastinated, couldn’t get organized in certain areas of my life, and couldn’t keep the family on a schedule. These were a few of my excuses:

I have A. D. D.– For a long time I really used this diagnosis as a crutch. I even took medication for it as an adult which didn’t help at all, and I no longer take it because first of all, it is terrible for your body and secondly, I don’t think I need it…. this is a sin issue… and God fixes sin issues, not medication. (not to say that medication in certain circumstances is wrong, just sayin’ I don’t think I need it.)

I wasn’t trained for this job. -I really came into marriage and housekeeping at a severe disadvantage. I didn’t even know how to crack an egg, let alone cook it, and I had no clue how to sort and wash laundry, didn’t know how to cook anything other than grilled cheese and even that was likely to get burnt, had never cleaned a bathroom (except from my serving jobs working in restaurants… um gross!), had never successfully kept a room organized and cleaned. I didn’t have chores growing up, I’m sure my parents would’ve wanted to give me chores, but I was a pretty difficult kid from the get-go and I think expectations for me were just low. I didn’t do things well and efficiently from a young age, so having me do chores was more work (and a head-ache, I’m sure) for my mother than actually doing the work herself, and knowing that I’d just back-talk and complain the whole time, I pretty much forfeited all my life-skills learning opportunities. Also, I went to school from age 5 and on, most days I left my home and came back at 3 or 4. Things were done during the day: laundry and dinner prep and mopping of floors…. things I never really got to witness on a day to day basis to understand what really took place in the keeping of the home. At one point when I was a teen and my mother asked what I wanted to do when I grew up I said, “I want to be a housewife so I can do nothing like you.” Clearly, I had no grasp on reality! I must have thought the cleaning fairies visited or something. I had no idea how much work my mother was putting in behind the scenes! She always made it look so easy! For a long time, I just used the “I wasn’t trained for this” excuse, but I’m realizing that this is still no excuse really. It may explain a bit why I struggle, but it can not be a reason to accept this behavior from myself. There are many many blogs and books and mentors that are available to help gals like me who feel like they have no clue what they are doing in this house-keeping arena. God has given me many resources and much help.

I’m more of an artsy, creative brain, free spirited person. And that’s how God made me!– While it may be true that God has given me a creative mind and a pretty ‘go with the flow’ attitude, it does not mean that I can do the work He has laid out for me poorly. Where in God’s Word does it say, “if a man doesn’t work he doesn’t eat… except for artists and musicians and free spirits”? oh wait it doesn’t! Just look at King David, he was a creative and musically gifted man, but He also did His work well as a shepherd, warrior, and as King of Israel. We never heard tale in the Bible of David not being very organized in his kingly duties because he was more of a creative type. Being gifted in one area is not an excuse to slack off in another!

God desires for us to do things decently and in order

“But all things should be done decently and in order.” -1 Corinthians 14:40

“for God is not a God of confusion but of peace” -1 Corinthians 14:33a

These verses above are giving instructions for how things are to be conducted in God’s house. These are directly speaking of the proper use of spiritual gifts such as tongues and prophecies. I believe that we can gain multiple applications though: if God desires for things to be done decently and in order in His houses of worship, then that tells us home-managers how things should be conducted in our houses as well. It goes on to say that God is not a God of confusion, but of peace. We as Christ followers who are longing to be like Jesus are called to not be people of confusion. Doing things decently and in order brings peace to our lives and homes.

Sure it takes work! The Bible says: “But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4:7-8) We can’t buy into the lies of the world and the lies of psychology on this…. those are worldly fables! We must discipline ourselves for the purpose of godliness (being more like God). It is work, and that’s okay…. it’s worth it! It holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come!

Now for What I am NOT SAYING

I’m not saying that if you have dishes and laundry piled up sometimes you are sinful. I’m not saying that when you have interruptions in your schedule, or when you sporadically choose to stop the chores and instead to go jump on the trampoline with your little ones is sinful. It isn’t… that’s the life of a mom! I am not saying that, please hear me! I am saying that if this is a life-style of disorder and unstructured time, if you know at the end of most of your days that you absolutely wasted time doing the wrong things at the wrong time (even if they were “good” things), that is what I’m talking about. I do not want to put an unrealistic burden on anyone or on myself. I’m not talking about a house that looks like a Better Homes and Gardens magazine or keeping a schedule like a military Sargent. Some of you will read this and be in the same boat as I am, needing to struggle and fight against the sin of self-centerdness and sensuality, and to embrace a life of self-discipline for the sake of godliness. Others will need to examine their lives and hearts and if you see that you are working with eager hands as unto the Lord, know that the house may still be messy and there will still be interruptions. I am talking about realistic organization. I say all this because my goal here is freedom, not bondage! I want freedom from my sin of disorganization, and I want that for others who struggle in this area, but I want some of you mamas to know that His grace is sufficient for you…. and you can’t do it all! Some people need to slow down and relax a bit… Martha Martha…slow down, sit with Jesus, read books with your kids, don’t panic if there are a few crumbs on the floor. Others of us need to get to praying and working. Balance and heart examination is key.

Here are some of my documents that I use for scheduling what to do with my time! These are my life- savers!!!!

Home Routines- Abiding Woman

family schedule template – Abiding Woman (this is one for you to fill out yourself)

“I’m sorry I yelled at you”

I'm Sorry I Yelled

I’m not a yelling person. I have always despised yelling since I was a young child. When I’m yelled at it affects me in a way that I almost can’t explain…. I begin not being able to think clearly, I begin trying to figure out how I can immediately leave the situation, my thoughts get messy, my words get jumbled. If I’m forced to stay in the situation with someone who is yelling at me I will either just cry or I will begin to fight back. I hate all of these responses! I know they are unBiblical. I know deep in my heart that a gentle answer turns away wrath and not to revile against an evil doer but to overcome evil with good, but in the moment of being yelled at, answers don’t come, gentle is the last thing I can think of, doing good to overcome the evil doesn’t even compute. I pray that one day I will be able to respond more graciously if I’m yelled at, but that’s not really the point of this whole detailed thing. The point is: I hate being yelled at, so why do I struggle not to yell at my kids? It doesn’t happen every day, but some days it does.

 I notice on those yelling days that it probably stemmed from one or even all of the following problems:

-I wasn’t abiding in Jesus. I wasn’t in the Word like I should’ve been and/or I wasn’t praying throughout my day and meditating on His word.

-I wasn’t disciplining consistently and calmly. Usually when I yell, it’s because I’ve let a lot of disobedience happen, and never acted on it in the correct way. It finally builds up, and I start yelling. Spanking (when done calmly and correctly) is the most loving thing I can do for my children, and the best thing I can do to keep from losing my cool later. If you deal with one problem behavior at a time in that way, it usually keeps other problems from happening later.

-I wasn’t feeling well. It happens to all of us, we will not always feel great and sometimes we may feel downright miserable, but that is no excuse to not still bear the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. I can’t be controlled by my feelings, aches, and pains…. I must be controlled by the Spirit.

-My priorities were completely out of whack! This one is hard to explain, but I’ll try. An example would be yelling because a child made a huge mess, well by yelling at my child I have now told her that my home being clean is more important than her being treated with love and respect. Priorities out of whack: people are more important than things! Another example is maybe I was trying to edit some pictures and do some work on the blog and my kids started acting up, and because I had to be interrupted, I yelled. Well, I probably should not have been on the computer at that time anyway, taking care of my children is much more important than any work I feel I need to do online… even if it is ministering to other women. Those are just two examples, but it can happen in many ways, and when I start getting my priorities in the wrong places, then I also tend to start yelling.

-I have unrealistic expectations. Sometimes I expect for things to flow as smoothly as they do for other families I see. Other times, I’m expecting my children to do something they flat out aren’t capable of doing yet. I use to get so frustrated when I first started training my children to sit quietly in church, the older one could do it fine, but the two year old just would not! Well, I finally realized that I can’t expect a two year old to sit still like an adult and to not speak for an hour, and to expect otherwise is setting myself up to get angry. Some two year olds can… mine could not. Children are children! They are learning and maturing each and every day and at different rates than others, truthfully we probably set them back a bit in that maturing each time we yell at them and cause them to be fearful of our anger.

a few days ago…

A few days ago, I had one of these really bad days. All of the above reasons were true, all at once: I wasn’t abiding in Christ, I wasn’t disciplining consistently, I wasn’t feeling well, my priorities were out of whack, and I had unrealistic expectations of how my children should behave while I laid on the couch sick. On top of that, my husband was out of town which always makes them act just a little worse for some reason. The day drug on and on, and all these things continued to be true, and my children continued to grow more and more disobedient, and then something happened (I don’t even remember what it was) but my four year old had disobeyed and this time I just blew up. I yelled at her, spoke sarcastically to her, and made her feel about 2 inches tall…. my sweet and spunky girl was heartbroken, she busted out into tears and ran up the stairs to her bed to sob. I would’ve done the exact same thing if someone had just spoken to me like that! My other daughter proceeds to quote James 1:19-20 to me, “Mama, everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger, the anger of man does not accomplish the righteousness of God.”

Ouch.

I did repent of my sin to the Lord, and I did then go up and cuddle my precious girl, tell her that I was sorry, and ask her to forgive me. And she did. :) Then we just snuggled.

That night I set a new goal for myself, and I hope I can keep it. I don’t want to yell at my children any more. ever. ever. It’s not worth it! I do not want to strain our relationship! I love them so much and yelling doesn’t convey that at all! So here are my practical steps to accomplishing my goal of no more yelling:

1. Be in the Word and be in prayer daily, first thing in the morning.

2. Smile when I talk to them, even if I’m not feeling happy. It’s a fake it, til you make it concept, and really I did it this morning…. it works!

3. Set a tone of peace and joy in our home. This starts with me: cuddling, laughing, making time for them to read or play together, pausing to listen to them when they speak and responding to them with love, even if it is something that just wasted 5 minutes of our work time, it was important to them.

4.  Whisper when I need them to change tone for emphasis. Not everything can be said with a cheery happy tone, so whispering is a very effective alternative. It gets their attention to know the mood has changed without the yelling and angry tone of voice.

5. Disciplining consistently, and training them to respond with obedience to my calm voice.

Say a little prayer for me as I grow in this area. <3

at bedtime on the very bad day…

It had been such a rough day, I was so ready for bedtime to come! I tucked them in, and those little arms of the very dear one that I had yelled at just hours earlier wrapped tightly around my neck and she said in a little whisper, “Mommy I really love you!”

I replied, “I really love you too. I’m sorry I yelled at you today, I’m going to try very hard not to yell at you again.”

Then she responded, “I’m sorry I disobeyed you, I’m going to try not to disobey you again.” Then she paused and continued with a new thought, “Won’t it be great when we get to heaven and we don’t sin any more!” I just smiled at the thought with tears in my eyes and said, “yes, yes it will”, and held her close til she fell asleep.

What about you? Ever struggle with yelling, what are your best tips for keeping your cool?

We Will Never Get This Back

we will never get this back

Sometimes it hits me out of nowhere, I’ll be admiring the simplicity and trust that a child displays in these younger years, and then I will remember with a great sense of urgency that these days are limited and we will never get them back.

These sweet girls that I cuddle and discipline, teach and read to, play and pray with will only be this little for a little while.

Oh how I pray that I use this time well!

I fail, yes. There is grace, yes. and Praise God for that because I am a girl in need of Him constantly! But as I abide in Him I am reminded through His Word and through the Holy Spirit what my duty to these girls is right now.

I have a job to do! Something only I can do because I am the one who is with them almost ALL of the time. That is a great privilege and a great responsibility!

I believe we can take this seriously and delight in it at the same time!

I want to be a living example for them to see moment by moment, a woman who is not a slave to sin, but instead is a slave to Christ.

I want them to see someone who seeks to glorify God and who enjoys God throughout her days.

I want them to see a woman who loves and respects their daddy.

I want them to see my love for them and my contentment in these years of training and teaching.

What is amazing about all of this is that I don’t have to muster up these thoughts out of nowhere. Nope… God has already placed them in my heart.

Psalm 37:4 says

Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.

This verse has been so true for me in this area!

I have shared before how I struggled with my contentment, I struggled with my selfishness in my role as wife and mom, but as I spent more time seeking God just for the sake of getting God (not to fix my life!), that is when He took out my heart of stone and gave me a heart of flesh. He has placed new desires within me!

So I encourage you to seek God’s face! Enjoy Him! Worship Him! Repent of sin and rejoice in His grace!

Then He will give you the desire to be present, to be joyous, to be kind, to teach your children about Jesus through words and deeds.

When we have our minds on Christ, we will be made aware of the gift that this time is.

What a blessing to mother these young children, to nurse babies, to kiss booboos, to read the same stories over and over, to teach catechisms, to teach Scripture, to pray for and with these precious littles. It is so beautiful and such a joy to be a part of this! And we must do it now, today, because we won’t ever get today back.

But we can’t do any of this if we are not abiding in Him, a part from Him we can do nothing.

We must seek Him first!

My prayer for myself and you all my sweet readers is that we will do these things and bring glory to our Father in Heaven through the power of the Spirit that lives within us and through the grace of Christ Jesus.

Be blessed.

Preparing Your Heart for the First Year of Mohterhood and Beyond

first year of motherhood

Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward. -Psalm 127:3

The first year is a blessing and a challenge, especially if this is your first baby! Each time you have a child it’s different and the same in many ways! Every baby is different and your situations and circumstances change with each one. The challenges that you had with your first may be different than the challenges that you have with your next one. Although each mom, child, and circumstance differs, there are 4 things that I believe every mama who loves Jesus should plan for during your preparation, and implement once your child is here. (note these are not the only things, just 4 that I feel are of utmost importance)

-Plan to pray for and with your child daily! It almost seems like a given, but it’s wise to plan for these things ahead of time. I recommend starting now! Pray for your baby while he/she is still in the womb! Put your hand on your belly and pray out loud, ask God to save your baby, to use your child to bring Him glory, to draw your child to Him at a young age, to give your child strong faith, and lift up prayers or concerns that you may have for this child. Once baby comes things can seem a little chaotic, but feeding times are a great time to slow down, sit with your baby, and pray.  At night before bed I always pray with my big girls, and then when I lay my baby girl down I lay my hands on her and pray out loud for her. One day she will be able to participate in this prayer time like the big girls do, but for now this sets the stage and begins the habit. Once your baby starts solid foods at the table, put baby’s hands together and say a quick prayer giving thanks and asking God to bless the food. When you are having a fun time of play, pause for a short moment and say “Thank you Lord for this fun time together!” Again, this is setting the stage for what will always be a huge part of your lives together. Pray pray pray! Have it in your heart to teach your child by example and through the structure of your home how this Scripture plays out in the life of a believer: Rejoice always; pray without ceasing;  in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. -1 Thessalonians 5:16-18NASB

-Plan to teach your child about God constantly. Go ahead and start thinking about teaching and telling your child about the most important thing there is to know about: God – who He is, what He has done, what that has to do with us, etc… You can start looking for a good children’s Bible that you would like to use, or if you don’t like using children’s Bibles and would rather just read your child the Scriptures, begin planning what version you will use and activities and questions to help your child understand the Scriptures. I personally like to do both! Storybook Bibles help them comprehend the big picture while the actual Scriptures are the actual words of the Holy Spirit given to us through the chosen men who wrote them. These are living and active! Do not underestimate the power of the Scriptures even in the life of a baby!  All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness -2Timothy 3:16NASB

-Plan to guard your child’s heart with diligence. This is honestly something I did not think about until my first was an early preschooler and my second was a toddler. By this time I had already made some mistakes that I would have to change, and it’s always harder to change these things after they are done than to start them out from the beginning. I wish I would have thought and prayed about this before I ever had my first child. However, know that even if you have an older child or even a teenage child, it is never too late to change and begin guarding your child’s heart!  Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life. -Proverbs 4:23NASB While your children are under your care so are their hearts! You already know that you will guard your child from the physical dangers of this life, but realize that spiritual dangers should actually be more important to us that physical dangers. What is worse, pain and possibly death or the eternal wrath of God? I truly believe that you should protect your children physically and spiritually, but I ask the question like that because so many parents elevate physical safety over spiritual safety and that just doesn’t make any sense at all! Of course you want to protect your child from hell and from the earthly consequences of sin, so start by protecting them from the things that lead to these sins. Be careful of the shows and music that your child is exposed to. Many of them seem harmless, but examine them closely and compare them to the Scriptures. Before I turn on a dvd for my child I like examine this Scripture: Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. -Philippians 4:8NASB I ask myself is this true? (this can get a little tricky because fictional things are not bad as long as your child can distinguish fiction from reality and as long as you explain the difference to your children thoroughly) I ask myself if it is off good repute, in other words… is there something sinful in here or even an appearance of evil that is glorified or made out to be good? Stories and plot lines usually have “bad” characters, but they should be made out to be bad and have bad results of their sinful behavior. Stories of rebellious children who end up having the time of their lives, having no consequences, and in the end receiving a desired reward are terrible movies to set before your children. Two examples that come to mind of those are “The Little Mermaid” and “Tangled”. It may seem like an innocent and fun story, but you are setting up your child to believe that when they want something they can rebel and sneak in order to get it and things will turn out wonderful. Also, think about the people you spend time with now, do they guard their children with Biblical standards? If not, this doesn’t mean that you can’t spend time with them, but it means you will have to plan it strategically. You will need to be able to watch your children carefully when they interact with their children, you will need to be bold enough to share your standards with them and request for them to respect them, and you will need to be able to explain to your children the differences in your families’ choices and their families’ choices later. These seem like silly things to think about when you are pregnant, but truthfully this will sneak up on you quicker than you think! And if you don’t think about it now then you may find yourself like me, regretting some decisions that you made early on and having to fix them later. I have had to apologize to my girls and tell them “I’m sorry, Mommy was not thinking about what was most honoring to the Lord and what was going to be the best thing for you when I let you watch that movie or stay at this friends’ house. Now we are changing this, we are going to honor the Lord in this way.” Surprisingly, this conversation goes very well! They may be sad or resistant at very first, but give it a week….. they will forget all about it. Movies and friends are not the only thing to guard their hearts from… this is just an example! There are many many things to consider! So be prayerful and diligent. Ask God to give you discernment and wisdom, and then the courage to do the right thing in the lives of your children.

-Be a living example of a Christ follower to them. This isn’t just about teaching them what is right, it is about demonstrating it to them. I’ve said this before in my blog and I will say it again, most things are caught, not taught. Your children will get most of their morals and standards and habits straight from your actions. So start preparing your heart for this now! You won’t be perfect, but even in these mistakes you will have the opportunity to demonstrate true repentance to your children. When you mess up, tell your children about how it broke your heart because you sinned against God, tell them that you had to pray and ask Him to forgive you… and that He did! And celebrate that! Your goal should be able to say to your children as Paul says here: Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. -1Corinthians11:1NIV

Now these are the basics that you will be focusing on from your child’s birth and for the rest of your life as a mom. They are so important and sadly, they are some of the LAST things people consider when they start preparing themselves for motherhood. These things are foundational. Many other decisions will be made, but if you are parenting wisely and Biblically then you will base them on these.

There is one last word of advice I want to share and this specifically has to do with your heart as a mom during those very early weeks with baby. Your body will be going through a lot of hormone changes, and physically you will be tired and worn down as you adjust to less sleep, nursing can initially be a challenge for some, and your new life as a mom will be a constant time of growth as a person and spiritual sanctification. This is NOT just some easy peasy task that you can take lightly. You need to be prayed up and stay in the Word! Do not neglect your time with the Lord! That will be more important than doing the dishes, getting a shower, or working on losing your baby weight. That will be the thing that helps you stay strong, be the best mom you can be, and to combat postpartum depression (if that is something you have to battle). Postpartum depression is surprisingly very common, don’t just say “that won’t be me”, plan to fight it with the sword of the Word and with the help of the Lord! I may post a whole post or series on Postpartum depression in the future because it is something I went through before and by the help of the Lord managed to overcome. It is something that churches and women’s ministries don’t often talk about, and when they do they go at it with a worldly perspective instead of a Biblical perspective. I would love to share more about it and help other moms that suffer from that. So be on the lookout for that in the future.

Sorry this post is so long, there’s just so much to say here, and so much I actually feel I left unsaid! But to wrap it up with a little bow let me just encourage you: You can do this and honor the Lord with it through the power of the Holy Spirit! I pray your motherhood experience is a blessing to you and that you grow Godly children that have a heart for Jesus! Be blessed!

This is the final post of the Series:How To Prepare For Button

Read the first two installments here: Birth and Breastfeeding. And be sure to hop over to Road to 31 and check out this other half of this series written by Lindsey on the practical preparations for Birth, Breastfeeding, and Beyond.  We thank you for joining us and hope you have been blessed by the series!