Tag Archives: encouragement

Insignificant

insignificant

I am sure we all have those moments. You know the ones. I feel small and like I am living a life that is of no consequence and very insignificant. I have no purpose and no matter what I do, no one notices.

My heart and head know the answer to that thinking –

  • God has a plan. – Jeremiah 29:11
    For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
  • We are all a part of the body and with a purpose. – I Corinthians 12:12-31
    For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. (verse 12)
  • My life was determined by God before I was ever knit together in my mother’s womb; I was made. – Psalm 139:13-14
    For You formed my inward parts;
    You covered me in my mother’s womb.
    I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    Marvelous are Your works,
    And that my soul knows very well.
  • God is working in the lives of His children, who serve Him. – Rom 8:28
    And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
  • I have purpose and calling. – 2 Timothy 1:9
    who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purposeand grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began,

I can spout the thinking that should buoy me up with the best of them. But sometimes, it just isn’t enough.

  • When I have brought up concerns and am brushed off.
  • When I am told that something important is going to happen and to be prepared, just to have nothing happen and it not to be mentioned again.
  • When someone looks at you and tells you, literally, you wouldn’t understand because you are not smart enough.
  • When you are told that the only thing someone thinks of when I walk into a room is a particular program that I work hard to serve.

And then someone picks up the phone and calls. And you see, very clearly, God’s hand in it all.

This is what happened yesterday. I had literally just been discussing how very inconsequential I felt my life was in the grand scheme of things. The phone rang. It was my mom and one of the first things she began telling me about was the apostle Andrew and the sermon she had heard that morning.

Andrew is not known for very much. Really, we don’t know much about him, even after scouring the scriptures to know more. But when I heard my mom talking about how quiet his life was compared to his brother, Peter, I realized very quickly that God was speaking.

He was whispering, through my mom’s voice, “you matter” and “Just like Andrew, I have something in mind for you.”

I spent some time early this morning studying more about Andrew and found myself amazed about how important he was, yet he is mentioned very little in scripture. But God. . .

I need to sit quietly and wait on that “but God” moment in my life. I will wait in prayer, for myself and for you. God has a moment coming in your life, too.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

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Live For Jesus, O My Brother ~ hymn

Hymns can do a number of different things for the singer or the listener. They all seem to do one thing the same, though – exhortation. Whether it be an exhortation of warning or one of encouragement, it seems like almost of all hymns have this element. Sometimes, the exhortation is both warning and encouragement. This hymn does a bit of both.

Encouragement to live the way God calls His children to live is found throughout each of the verses and the refrain. There are specific actions mentioned – “Render not to any other what long the Lord’s should be,” or “Give Him all thou hast to give.” But there are some not so specific ones also – “Live for Jesus.”

However this encouragement is looked at, please do “live for Jesus” and we will have the blessings that He offers those following Him – “endless bliss” according to the lyrics of this hymn.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Live For Jesus

Live For Jesus, O My Brother

words: E. R. Latta
music: Frank M Davis

1. Live for Jesus, O my brother,
His disciple ever be;
Render not to any other,
What alone the Lord’s should be.

Refrain
Live for Jesus, live for Jesus;
Give Him all thou hast to give;
On the cross the world’s Redeemer
Gave His life that Thou mightst live.

2. Live for Jesus, wandering sinner,
Under Satan serve no more;
Of the promised prize a winner
Thou may’st be, when life is o’er. [Refrain]

3. Live for Jesus in life’s morning;
At the noontide hour be His;
And at eve, when day is turning,
And inherit endless bliss. [Refrain]

Elizabeth Prentiss: More Love ~ a Crew review

Elizabeth Prentiss review

More love to Thee, oh Christ, more love to Thee!
Hear Thou the prayer I make on bended knee,
This is my earnest plea
More love, oh Christ, to Thee
More love to Thee, more love to Thee!

This hymn is well known to me and my family and we enjoy singing it. We didn’t realize these were the words of a lady named Elizabeth Prentiss or that it came out of the depth of sorrow in her life, which she kept dedicated to the Lord. Christian Focus allowed us the pleasure of reading the story of Elizabeth in their biography of her titled Elizabeth Prentiss. The subtitle of this book is More Love and how fitting it is once you read of her story.

Christian-Focus-Publications-Logo

First, let me share a bit about the company Christian Focus. They have a singular focus in what they are publishing – the Gospel. Through the literature they print, they strive to remain faithful to the infallible word of God, the Bible. In being focused through their publishing, they are trying to fulfill the command of Christ to share His gospel. This focus and outreach guides their publishing house.

Christian Focus sent the Crew several options of titles for review and they all look so interesting. The age range is varied but the quality looks to be solid across the titles.
Big Bible Science, Read To Me ages 5-7; Read by Myself ages 7-11
Elizabeth Prentiss, Read To Me 8-9; Read by Myself 9-14
God is Better than Princesses,  Read To Me 0-5; Read by Myself 5-6
God is Better than Trucks, Read To Me 0-5; Read by Myself 5-6

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We received Elizabeth Prentiss and used it as a family read aloud. I did read it by myself first and determined that it would make for some wonderful family discussions so I chose to read it aloud. I feel like the above ages are about right for the start of the Read to Me bracket for this book but that the Read by Myself ages are more appropriate at 12 and above due to some of the intensity of emotion from events in Elizabeth’s life (death and illness, not violence). Regardless of the age, it is a wonderful story!

Elizabeth Prentiss is a lady dedicated to God. She knew this from a very young age. We often say this about people who go to foreign mission fields but Elizabeth? She chose to be faithful to God in supporting a loving husband who was a preacher and raising children while serving those around her in many ways. And they did this in America. This is a beautiful picture of a faithful servant of God that we don’t see written down often enough.

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At the age of 6, Elizabeth’s father died and her memories of him were of a man dedicated to God. She remembered finding him on the floor praying to God. She saw her mother doing the same often, especially after her father died. These two godly parents set the standard for Elizabeth and she followed it throughout her life, speaking to God often throughout the days. This early experience of death and the soon after experience of her own severe illness were just the beginning of trials Elizabeth was to have to repeat these over and over in her life. Thus, the example set by her parents was one of how to handle life’s trials by leaning on God. And this is the value of the story of Elizabeth Prentiss.

Elizabeth Prentiss review quote

Elizabeth found her strength in Christ and shared this often with those around her. She was an encourager and a strengthener for those who knew her. She knew suffering but did not let it define or burden her. She poured her thoughts and emotions out to the One who could handle them and she encouraged others to do the same.

 

In living her life as a Christian wife and mother, Elizabeth shows us the beauty of a life dedicated to Christ. Through her own constant illnesses and the deaths of her children and other family, Elizabeth shows us how to stand tall in Christ, how to rely on Him to strengthen when your physical strength is gone. Her life also shows us how to focus on the service that God has given to each of us. Even in her own sorrows, Elizabeth reached out to others. Her children grew in love and strength and dedication to the Lord, just as Elizabeth did. And the submission to her husband is a delight to see, as it shows a beautiful godly marriage where love is freely given by both and strength is gathered through that.

Elizabeth Prentiss review quote 2

One of the things Elizabeth did extremely well was write. She enjoyed writing and later in her life, she wrote many stories for children. She also wrote down her prayers. Some of these prayers have been set to music and that is where we know the hymn More Love from. In the midst of her sorrow, Elizabeth focused her emotions on loving Christ. This hymn is lovely.

Each of these aspects of Elizabeth’s character are woven together beautifully in this biography.

 

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Thinking Further Topic for the chapter Blessings and Sadness and the Challenge for the previous chapter

A feature in the book that I really appreciated is the Thinking Further Topics. For each chapter in Elizabeth’s story, there is a short devotional-like discussion of a related idea. That is followed by a challenge to the reader, something to do that will encourage them to act according to God’s will. The challenge is sometimes as simple as asking you to find more time to pray or to think carefully about how you treat people who are different than you. Other times, it is a bit more difficult such as thinking of a small way to serve God, a bigger way, and a biggest way to serve Him. All of the challenges are within reach of the reader, though, and all of the topics resulted in good discussions for our family. We used these after each day’s readings. They were simple to incorporate.

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There is also a timeline of Elizabeth’s life that could be used in a few different ways. One of the girls just wanted to look at it to see how things lined up since the passing of time in the story was not always clear. There were many times the girls stopped me to ask how much time had passed or how old Elizabeth was at a point in the story. The timeline was helpful for that.

We really enjoyed this story and I know we will be keeping our eyes open for more books by Christian Focus.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Be sure to stop by the Crew blog and read more reviews about this book and the others that were being read by families.

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More for Mom ~ a book review

More For Moms

This week has been full, in such a good way. From the being able to attend Teach Them Diligently to things our family is immersed in, life is full and it is lovely. That is just what this book is about though, living your whole life in a holy way that is pleasing to God and brings life to you. What a lovely idea.

The title of the book, More for Mom: Living Your Whole and Holy Life, really says what the author, Kristin Funston, wants you to see in your life – something that is holy and whole. A life wholly dedicated to being the holy being God created you to be.

As an adult with a family (yes, the book is written to moms but dads fit this too and could use the encouragement), there is much going on in our lives. For us, it is all chosen carefully in ways that will help us use the gifts God has granted each of us, even down to the 10 year old. We all have things to do that please God and we need to be aware of that.

BUT –

If we are neglecting God and His word and will through all of the using of the talents, abilities, and gifts He gives us, we have missed the boat, y’all. That is what Kristin is trying to get us to see. No matter what we do, if God isn’t first in it, there is no real purpose in it.

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The book has 210 pages, broken into three parts and 10 chapters. Part 1 is the Whole and Holy Mom. Kristin looks at all of life here, the things that push and pull us and what God’s will and way is. We crave God in our lives and when we search for things to fill that craving that aren’t God, our lives are not whole.

Part 2 is Living This Mom Life. These five chapters talks about the way we live our day to day lives, what we see or don’t see, what we do, how we interact, and wear ourselves down. But in all of it, there is the redeeming factor of God.

Part 3 is titled More for Mom. This is where the true meat of the book is and where it got really challenging for me. Life is full and it is good. But can I find ways to do more? Wait, you say – more? Yes and that is what Kristin is challenging us to – asking God to give us MORE – more peace, more joy, more hope. We have to find MORE time to do what God asks us to and He will give us MORE. The challenge in this for me was that I can easily look at my life and say “but I am already . . .” I am ready to say I am doing enough. I feel whole and holy.

That is where the problem is though – I should not stop when I fell whole and holy. I need to ask God to give me more – more empathy, more understanding, more patience, more hope, more joy, MORE. And there are three ways that Kristin talks about doing that.

  • More Time – I need to spend more time in God’s presence: in His word, in prayer, in focus. Prioritizing time with God is a needed and necessary thing. Just because I already am doing this doesn’t mean I should call it good. I need to do more. And there was great encouragement to do so here.
  • More Fasting – I have never quite understood this idea of fasting but Kristin’s chapter here has me desiring to study it more. I have never thought of it as a way to see MORE of God but it is an example Jesus gives us that I am going to study more. Fasting is often thought of as a food thing but Kristin reminds us that a fast can include many other things that you need to eliminate that take you away from focusing on God. Her idea of taking apps off of your phone if you tend to spend too much time there or of taking a different route when you are driving if you tend to stop off somewhere for a snack or drink or spending money are genius for removing distractions that lead us away from God. As I mentioned, more time will be spent on this idea.
  • More Life – “Life is Who we allow to complete it, and our body is Who we allow to fill it.” This really resonated with me because it encapsulates the idea of this entire book – God should be the focus of every part of our life because life is not small sections that are separated from one another. It is a whole life, filled by a whole God, to serve Him in a holy way. And we need to live it that way. God completes our life when we allow Him to fill it up with Himself.

This is a really encouraging book to read that helps me see His way more clearly. It is easy to get complacent and say “But I’m doing (fill in the blank).” I may have some fabulous habits in place that help me spend time with God. But if I step back and allow those habits to hold me up, I am not serving the living God who wants to be active in my life. More for Moms helps me see that I get more when I ask for more. It isn’t about more from the world but about more from The One who I serve.

May you be blessed as you seek to live your whole and holy life.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

More for Mom tour giveaway

Click Here to Enter:  a Rafflecopter giveaway

From the publisher: 

Reset your spiritual and emotional health with these steps.

More for Mom will encourage women to stop believing the lie that more is needed from them, and start living with the truth that more is available for them.

With real-life talk, humor and convicting biblical truths, Kristin Funston helps hard working mamas to look at each day and each facet of their life to discover what happens when they believe God has more for them than what they think the world needs from them.

And what He has available is a whole and holy life, just waiting to be claimed–a salvation and day-to-day reality complete just as it is. The pieces of each mom’s life–the work life, mom life, social life, etc.–are mended together through Christ to complete her one whole life, set apart because of Him.

This book is a stepping stone to help working mothers reset their spiritual and emotional health, habits, and relationship with God. There are performance pressures at work, home, and mind-sets that affect a mom’s ability to feel complete and live more closely aligned with God. This book includes the beginning steps for moms to walk in wholeness and holiness by asking God for more.

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Kristin Funston resides outside of Memphis with her husband and three daughters. She has a master’s degree in Communication Studies from New Mexico State University. Kristin has a passion for writing and wants to encourage women in a way that is relatable and practical with a large side of humor. She is a member of Hope Presbyterian Church, a congregation with a weekly attendance of more than 7,000, and serves as the Marriage & Family Coordinator. She contributes to multiple blogs.

https://kristinfunston.com/

Cultivating An Attitude

cultivating an attitude

So often we talk of cultivating a garden. Have you ever intentionally and with purpose cultivated an attitude? I am working on a plan for this year that will cultivate an attitude of appreciation. Or gratitude. Or gratefulness.

I chose the word cultivate because I want to be intentional about this. I don’t want it to be haphazard. I don’t want it to be something I think about once in a while. I want it to be something I try hard to do each day. Cultivate implies that you are conscientious about what is being done and working hard at it. When you cultivate something, it flourishes, grows, and becomes something that benefits everything around it.

So, I want to cultivate an attitude.

The attitude I want to cultivate is one that can have so many names – gratitude, thankfulness, appreciation, gratefulness. There are probably more. These are the ones that came to mind while I was writing this.

A sermon I was blessed by at the beginning of the year mentioned a 1902 essay by William George Jordan. He wrote “Ingratitude is a crime more despicable than revenge, which is only returning evil for evil, while ingratitude returns evil for good.” This is in an essay titled “The Power of Truth: Individual Problems and Possibilities.” You can find it through The Project Gutenberg.

The first part of my plan is to read this essay fully. I am also going to listen to some podcasts based on this essay. This quote struck me. It is so easy to think that I am not harming anyone when I don’t show appreciation or gratefulness but really, I am discounting what that person has done for me. When I do not intentionally show gratefulness, it is hurtful, even when I don’t intend for it to be so. And when I show gratefulness that someone is not expecting, that blesses the person doubly. Why wouldn’t I want that to be what happens daily?

The next part includes writing out passages from the Bible each day this year. I am starting in the beginning of Psalm for now but I do expect that will change after a bit. I have a goal of six verses a day.

I was blessed by a basket from the blog The Sparrow’s Home. I am going to use the note cards, pens, and pretty basket as a place to keep my materials so that I can write more notes of thanks this year. I have a goal of four a month, or one per week.

The final part of this cultivation, for now, is that I am going to be praying specific prayers of thanks. I am going to find something in particular each day for the purpose of giving thanks.

My hope is that I will see more of the good in everything. I also hope it will rub off some on those around me. But really, I hope it changes my heart in ways I cannot imagine.

So this is my “word” for the year. I am cultivating an attitude of gratitude.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

 

Linking up with the Homeschool Review Crew and their Word for the Year Ahead link-up.

Your Second Life Begins When You Realize You Only Have One ~ Book Club

You Second Life

This is a compelling little book that was handed to me by my MIL the other day. She just said “Do you want to read this? It looks neat but it is way down in my pile and I can’t read it yet.” So I did. It grabbed me from the beginning and I was riveted.

Your Second Life Begins When You Realize You Only Have One

Written by Raphaelle Giordano, this book has been translated into English. I believe it was originally written in French. It does take place in Paris, I believe. (I am guessing a little but the places mentioned all seem to fit Paris.)

We meet Camille at the beginning of the book and are quickly introduced to her hectic, busy, unfulfilling, unhappy/happy life. She is married to one she loves and has a little boy. They have a good place to live and she has a solid job. But she is feeling out-of-sorts, discontented, and unhappy. Which doesn’t make sense to her with such a “good” life. On the day we meet her, she has an accident with her tire and ends up in the middle of nowhere knocking on a stranger’s door. And with all that has happened, she ends up pouring out her story and discontent to him.

And he responds incredibly – I can help.

He listens and offers her his card. From there, he tells her that he understands (sometimes that is the most powerful part, isn’t it?) and that she can change her life. She is intrigued and contact him for help after she gets back to the city. What she finds is someone who wants her to success, to have a “happy” life, and a listening ear. She also finds significant encouragement and unusual tactics that help her focus, change, and redirect her thoughts and her life.

By the end of the story, we find a new Camille – happier, directed, focused, healthy, and energetic. She knows who she is and what she wants.

So many of the ideas and life changes are things that the reader can relate to. They can be addressed and changed in the reader’s life, as well. I find that fascinating. Yes, this is a novel but there is much to be learned from the approaches and the ideas in this book. If you are feeling rooted in discontent and want to find a way to redirect your life, pick this book up and give it a read. The ideas just might help you challenge your status quo and become someone you really admire and want to be. You just might end up following your dream.

Blessings,
At Home.

Visit Ladybug Daydreams, if you have a moment. I don’t know if Wendy is able to post for the Book Club this month or not but I’d love it if you would visit her blog for a moment or two.

Book club:Ladybug Daydrams and At Home where life happens

Thankful for Homeschooling ~ 5 Days of Homeschool Encouragement Blog Hop

Thankful Thursday

Today is one of those days, you know? The ones where it is a good thing you know your heart because the reality is a bit tough.

Today the bloggers of the Homeschool Review Crew are taking a look at the many, many reasons we are thankful to be going Back to Homeschool.

Right now, there are many pictures that show students returning to school. Parents are often jumping up and down and shouting about how glad they are to have their time back with the kids gone all day. There are plenty of articles talking about how good it is to be done with summer and not have the children “underfoot.” Not having to deal with babysitters or figuring out how to keep the children occupied. And seeing all of this, reading these things – my heart breaks and is joyful at the same time. I want to share that joy.

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Our Joy –

Joy that we have our children around us. Yes, even all day, every day. Yes, it can be hard but I am so thankful that our children are being taught good things that don’t undermine God and His word. They are being taught how to be God’s children, to think and reason and learn, how to discern, how to find strength and hope in the world.

Joy that our children are together. They enjoy each other’s company. Truly! They argue and fight, just like any sibling but when it comes down to it, they love each other deeply and support each other. Right now, school finished for the day by two of them, I hear them in the bedroom, laughing and giggling and sharing together. They will wait patiently (or maybe not so patiently) for each other to get their work accomplished so they can spend time together – maybe in reading or crafting or drawing or any number of things that they would not have time for were they in public school. They will pitch in and help each other, even when they don’t have to or need to, just so they can then do something together, like play a game.

Joy that we have the flexibility to tailor their learning to their interests and needs. I wrote about this a little bit with the Take a Look Tuesday post. All three of the girls have had a say in what they are learning this year; often in how the learning happens, though there is definitely some “I want to learn about this” stuff going on. We can fit in the things they are interested in and help them discover who God created them to be. Sometimes, I’m not so good at that as I struggle to make sure they are learning the things they need for life but they still get that independence for learning.

Joy that I can see their growth and celebrate their milestones. I get the joy of seeing them make their little milestones – get that cursive letter formed right or remember that Bible citation. But I also get to see their big ones – when they learn to drive (not there yet but it is on the horizon!), when they discover that thing that they get super excited about, when they realize that math isn’t such a big deal and chemistry is lots of fun. I get to encourage them along the way and see the baby steps that turn into the giant leap of understand.

Joy in seeing their social growth and responsibility grow. I get see my kids grow up. Not just the few moments in the evening after school and activities and homework. But each day – I see them chat with the older widows and widowers at church; I see them help the struggling mom at church with her baby; I see them keep the younger children safe while playing; I see them engage children both younger and older than themselves in games and conversations; I see them reach out to someone to ask a question; I see them approach the adult behind the desk at the store or the library to confidently ask for help; I see them order their meal; I see them act responsibly when they could easily pass it off on someone else; I see them save their money for something important like a gift for someone else. These are the little things that I get to see each day because they are with me when we go to the store or the library or many other places.

Joy in seeing them discover. I get to take the girls on field trips and this allows me to see them discover the world. I get to see them discover how bubbles work or how electricity flows or how to balance a bicycle on a wire high above the floor. I get to see them crawl over lava flows and study the rocks and plants. I get to see them figure out how to make lunch for everyone and see them offer to do it when they don’t have to. I get to see them hike a mountain path and explore the plants that are a bit different from where we live. I get to see them find new books and authors and ideas at the library. I get to see them discover sodas and the Titanic and sound and monuments and national parks and so much more. I also get to see them discover their own abilities – in dance, in cooking, in cleaning, in helping. This light bulb going off, these moments of discovery – they are a highlight of homeschool.

playing mancala

You know – now that I have started pointing out for you many of the good things we are thankful for in our education choice, my day is brighter. And this is another joy – getting to show the girls that a bad day or a bad moment doesn’t define you. And it doesn’t define our education. That bad moment right before I started typing this? Well, it has dissipated and we are now joyfully engaged in a game of mancala. Experiencing life and learning (lots of learning in that game) together. With JOY!

Blessings,
At Home.

There are more than 40 homeschool moms writing encouragement posts today on this Thankful Thursday! I encourage you to visit the anchor post for the Crew and also some of the ladies’ blogs to gather more encouragment to yourself. You can do that by the linky on the Crew blog or by visiting some of the blogs below.

Christine @ Christine Howard
Christy @ The Simple Homemaker
Dawn @ Schoolin’ Swag
Debra @ Footprints in the Butter
Diana @ Homeschool Review
Felicia @ Homeschool 4 Life
Jacquelin @ A Stable Beginning
Jeniffer @ Thou Shall Not Whine
Jennifer @ A Glimpse of Our Life

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