Tag Archives: encouragement

Think on These Things (or why we don’t tell our girls about news stories)

Think On These Things

I had an interesting discussion with the oldest giggly girl the other day. She asked why they always have to learn about news stories at church, such as school shootings. Evidently they are often topics of conversation among the youth at church, specifically for prayer requests. Prayer requests are good – praying for those who need it falls right in line with what God wants the girls to do. However, we intentionally don’t draw their attention to these types of stories. And so when she asked, I answered.

The answer was quite easy –

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. – Philippians 4:8 (NKJV)

This is why I don’t watch the news. This is why I don’t read the newspaper. This is why I skip over so much of social media. The topics and ideas these media cover are not often noble, or lovely, or pure. So, I often don’t know of the bad things that are happening in the world and cannot share it with my girls. Even if I did, I do not want that to be where my girls thoughts are focused.

I don’t want them worrying or being fearful. God did not create in us a spirit of fear. (2 Timothy 1:7) When we focus on the evil things of the world, we will give in to the spirit of fear that Satan desires for us. When we are living in fear, we are not living in God and His will for our lives.

We try hard to bring the lovely and the beautiful and the pure into our girls lives so that they can focus on God.

Hosea 6:6 says

For I desire mercy and not sacrifice,
And the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.

When the evil of the world is brought to view, we pray and try to teach the girls to pray. In order for us to help teach our girls to focus on the good and the beautiful, to focus on mercy and the knowledge of God, we refrain from bringing to their focus the evil of the world.

Blessings,
At Home.

Advertisements

Leadership

My mind has been focusing pretty hard on leadership this evening. I see two kinds: one where you lead with kind words, examples, and patience and the other where you lead with power and pride.

I strive to lead my children with the first kind of leadership. I pray that I lead them with kindness, words to help them learn, an example of righting wrongs and following where/when I need to. I hope that I lead with patience and understanding.

Leadership

What do we do when we believe our children have experienced the other kind of leadership? What do we do when they have been led by someone who wields their power instead of their understanding? When they punish instead of explain? When they hurt instead of help? When they use threats instead thoughtful words?

Oh, how I wish there were easy answers!

Specific instances are running through my mind. None of them included possible injury to anyone, damage to property, or anything along those lines. It was a matter of obeying a command that was given (walk, sit, etc.). No, I was not there and I can be missing a lot. But the thoughts remain. How do we teach our children when to follow and when to not?

I want my girls to maintain their fiercely independent spirits. I want them to be powerful in their understanding and kindness to others and to be able to lead that way. I want them to be powerful leaders, not because they wield their power to punish or crush someone’s spirit, but to be powerful leaders because of their ability be kind, empathetic, considerate.

Fiercely loving and fierce kindness – that is what my girls are full of. I pray that I can continue to nurture that and that the world will not beat it out of them with punishment and lack of understanding. So, once again, I find myself leaning on God’s wisdom and leadership and knowing that He has amazing plans for these girls.

Blessings,
At Home.

 

Safe Place

The other day, my heart broke. As we were leaving violin class, a little boy, about 4, came sobbing, screaming, running down the stairs, flying past us. I waited a second before I moved so I could get out of the way of the adult that would obviously come chasing him. That didn’t happen but another adult that I knew came through the door at the top of the stairs with questions in her eye. I knew I needed to follow him. So I did, my heart breaking.

I flew down the stairs after him, fearful of what he was running from, but knowing he needed someone to help him. As I got to the hallway at the bottom of the stairs and turned to follow him, a woman stepped out of a classroom with terror on her face. Her little boy was screaming and running. She stepped out to meet him and console him and let him know he was okay.

Safe Place

I don’t need to tell you just how thankful I am that he found his mother, that he wasn’t running from any physical thing that was threatening him. It has brought two thoughts to mind though.

1 – For that sweet mama – He is safe and you are okay. That choice to leave him turned out okay in the end so don’t berate yourself any more. I could see you shielding your face as you climbed the stairs with your boys. I could see you avoiding eye contact and trying to not have to face anyone. I wish I could have reached out to you, to calm your fears of what others were thinking.  We are all so very grateful that he was fine and he knew where to find you. No one is judging you. No one thinks you are a bad mom. And I wish I had had a way to reach out to you. I could see the pain on your face as you held his hand and walked with him to your car. I could see the love written there, too, and the relief. You are a good mama and your children, they are special gifts. We are thankful that you love them and they are with you tonight.

And

2 – Do I run to my parent the same way that little boy did? He knew where his safe place was, even when he was no longer in sight of that safe place. His mama may have been out of his sight but he KNEW. And when he got frightened, scared, and worried, he took off just as fast as his little legs could carry him, running to the one who would make everything right.

Do I run to God like that when I make a mistake? When I am frightened or scared? When I can no longer see “my safe place?” Do you?

God tells us in Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

He tells us to come to Him. To give Him our burdens, our weariness. When we do this, he gives us rest. This is the only rest that really matters. It is not rest that can be gained overnight in a comfy bed. This is the relief of the bone-deep weariness and burdens that plague life on earth. God asks us to come to him, come running, sobbing, frightened, scared. Come however you are. He will give you rest.

He also tells us about the son who has turned from the father’s way and was lost to him. In Luke 15:11-32, we find the story that many of us call the “Prodigal Son.” This son left the ways of the father, took all his “birthright” money, and turned his back on his dad, his family. But after hardship and trial came his way, this young man realized just how much love can carry you through and what he had actually abandoned. He ran home, throwing himself down at his father’s feet, and asking forgiveness.

He ran to the one who he KNEW, without a doubt, would reclaim him, would care for him and not throw him out again. But even better was the whole-hearted acceptance he received. His father did not just receive him; he embraced his son. His father cared for him better than the son ever imagined he would.

The son knew where his safe place was and he ran to it.

I need to run back to God, to find my safe place within his arms. And I know he will accept me, again. He tells us that. (Acts 2:38, Acts 13:38)

I am blessed to have a God who loves me so much that he provided a way for me to come back to him.

Blessings,
At Home.

God’s Law – ways

God's Law WAYS

When I went through Psalm 119, I wrote down each of the words that referenced God’s laws in some way or another on notecards and then noted the verses that went with each word. I ended up with 11 cards: 8 are words specifically about God’s law, 2 are references that I haven’t fully decided upon yet (they fit but yet they don’t in the NIV), and 1 is a note on the verses that don’t mention God’s law.

I am choosing to start with the word WAYS. In the NIV, this word only appears twice, in verses 3 and 15.

Verse 3: They do nothing wrong; they walk in his ways.

Verse 15: I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.

Look up the definition of the word WAYS. You’ll probably find two options. 1) a method, style, or manner of doing something; and 2) a road, track, path, or street for traveling along. There were a couple of others that I found in different places by doing a search on the internet. But let’s look at these two.

Verse 3 seems to be using the 2nd of these literal definitions, but in regard to what God wants, the laws he wants followed. So, the Psalmist will walk in the WAYS that God directs him. How is he directed? That is really clear in the reading of the surrounding verses. God directs the ways to walk through his laws. When walking in his WAYS, we have a clear path marked out by which our travel is easier. When we follow that path, his WAYS, we can see where we are going and we have an easier time of it.

a method, style, or manner of doing something

When you have a way of doing something, you have a particular method which you desire to have followed. Maybe it is a set order of steps. Maybe it is specific materials. Maybe it is an expectation of being like you in how you handle something. In any regard, you have an expectation that things will be done specifically.

In verse 15, the Psalmist is saying that he is considering, thinking about, the manner or method that God desires. He is being aware of the fact that God has a plan that he wants his children to follow. The Psalmist is acknowledging that and abiding by it. How happy that must make God!

So, consider the word WAYS. How can we apply this thinking to our own life? Am I following that clearly delineated path God has made for me and learning it by reading the Bible? And I learning the method and manner of living life by God’s standards, His WAYS? Or am I leaning too much on my own sight, my own interpretation of the markings along the path?

I encourage you to read Psalm 119, to find encouragement in seeking out God’s WAYS.

At Home.

 

God’s Law

God's Law

I am going to start a weekly series that I am titling “God’s Law.”

I don’t honestly know where it will go but I am starting in Psalm 119. I am going to be looking at the verses that address God’s law and the different words used to label God’s law.

Some of the words:

  • law
  • precepts
  • ways
  • commands
  • word

And these are just from the first few verses of this chapter. Psalm 119 is 176 verses long and I will be using the NIV Study Bible as my main source. It is the 1985 copyrighted version, which I prefer over the newer ones. I am also expecting to use the NKJV some.

God’s Law, His word, is where we should be looking for guidance in this world. I was reading through Psalm 119 a few weeks ago and found great encouragement and comfort in the verses here. Then, in Ladies’ Bible Class, something was mentioned about how many different words are used to talk about God’s laws and how each word brings a slightly different focus. I knew then that it was the theme that I had been looking for, waiting for, trying to find, and that Psalm 119 was where to begin.

One other indication that this was the place to begin? Miss J has been working on memory verses for Bible class and we have been singing “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119:105) This has been in my mind quite often for the past few weeks, including now. 🙂

I don’t know the extent of this study. I am going to follow it where it leads and learn what I can from it. I hope you will join me and read through some, if not all, of the posts as they come your way. Regardless, I am praying that this is a fruitful journey for me and for anyone who follows along.

At Home.

Not Enough

Not Enough

When my friend Casandra asked about personal devotional times, I wondered what I should write. Then this phrase came to mind – Not Enough! It came to mind because it is what I have been feeling a lot lately.

And it is easy to feel. And believe. After all, we see the best of each other’s lives in social media and we don’t necessarily remember that it is not their whole life.

Even when we are not beaten down by things, it is easy to believe we are not enough. I didn’t have the girls do the dishes, again, tonight. We didn’t do a whole bundle of chores today and get the house spit-spot. (Yes, I have been watching Mary Poppins.) We didn’t go anywhere even though the Cultural Arts Festival was today and it would have been a good learning experience. We didn’t, we didn’t, we didn’t.

Those negatives can add up. Fast. So where do I go when I need a boost. Wish I could say that my very first reaction is prayer or the Bible. But honestly, I don’t do that often enough. When I do, though, what I find is peace and reminders that I am enough. God made me to be enough in exactly the right ways. I am enough. And so are you.

We are not to be in commonality with this world. We are strangers, aliens, here, and we should be recognized as such. I Peter 2:11-12 tells us “Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”

Because of this directive, our lives should look different than that of others who don’t have God. Which means, even when I am not feeling like I am enough, if I am staying away from the “sinful desires which wage war against your soul” and if I am living a good life that others will glorify God, then perhaps I am enough. Perhaps that negative voice is wrong. Sometimes, though, it is hard to be an exile, an alien.

Even in the midst of living as a foreigner, an exile, though, we have the peace of God. How do we have that? Look to Philippians 4:8-9 “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

So, I don’t need to do everything everyone else is doing. I don’t need to be the same as everyone else. I don’t.

Because I need to reflect God and what that means is I need to reflect what is true.

I need to reflect what is noble.

I need to reflect what is right.

I need to reflect what is pure.

I need to reflect what is lovely.

I need to reflect what is admirable, excellent and praiseworthy.

And when that is where my focus is, my life is aimed, I am enough. Because I am doing what God has directed me to. I may not live up to the world or the social media postings of others. And that is okay. Because God reminds me –

I am enough. And so are you.

At Home.

Rest – an elusive word

Teaching from Rest post

I was given the book (not as a review) Teaching From Rest: Teaching From Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace by Sarah Mackenzie. I got around to picking it up last night and I didn’t put it down until I was done. It was that good and that packed full of advice I needed to hear.

I loved where it started – what is rest? We think of this is one way but really, it is a wrong way to think. Thinking of rest as unstressed, peaceful is a start but what she is driving at in this book is not that. It is being fully enveloped in God’s rest and facing each day, each moment, from there, facing what God has placed before you to do. This is teaching from rest.

Throughout the book, Mrs. Mackenzie hits straight and doesn’t hide behind sugar-coated words. She gives clear statements not only of what we are reaching for but how to get there. With short, easy-to-read chapters and subsections, this book is not difficult, except for the painful toes.

It is so easy to get caught up in the expectations and the day-to-day grind, that we as homeschooling moms (even if you aren’t a homeschooling mom but just a mom) often miss the mark. We are aiming for the wrong place, the wrong thing. Mrs. Mackenzie sets us straight with kind but forceful words.

There are 3 parts to the book (in addition to the preface, introduction, afterward, resources, bibliography, etc.):

  • Whose “well-done” are you working for?
  • Curriculum is not something you buy
  • Be who you are

Throughout the writing, there are quotes and encouragements.

While it is clear from some of the passages that she practices a religion that is not the same as mine, there is so much in here that it not about the particular beliefs or religions. It is easy to just skip over those things you may find objectionable (and really, they weren’t objectionable, just not my beliefs) and move on to the helpful parts.

This is a book that I suspect I will be picking up again and again. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

At Home.

I am sharing this because this book really touched me. There was no company involved in asking me to review this. Truly, this just really made a deep impression on me.

%d bloggers like this: