Friday, January 30, 2009

Who is actually more useful?

"Well, Julia, I'm more useful than you." This was Anson's rather shocking statement that was uttered the other night while they were supposed to be sleeping. They have all decided to sleep in the same room, so bedtime lasts a bit longer, but I do like them having such sweet friendships. Mike and I were standing at the door listening and couldn't believe that Anson would say such a thing! The even more shocking part was Julia's response, "Yeah, you can climb higher, snap louder..." She was agreeing that he was definitely more useful, more valuable than she was. I stood at the door and giggled at their conversation, but was saddened by their misunderstanding of what makes us valuable and Who deems us useful.

Am I more useful than you? We play that game don't we? We size each other up, check out how we do with keeping the corners of our house clean, kids in the gifted program, memorize scripture...I could go on and on. This is a fun game if we are the ones that everyone agrees can "climb higher." It's fun when your snap is heard around the world and everyone finds you to be useful and valuable. However, what happens when we aren't the best? What happens when our gifts can't be used and our friendship isn't as important? What do we do then? Well, we rebuke The Liar!

Several years ago I studied a verse that has stuck with me whenever I start playing this game. Want to know what it is? OK...2 Corinthians 10:12-13 "We do not dare to classify ourselves or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the field God has assigned to us, a field that reaches even to you." It's not wise to measure ourselves with another fallen human being. We'll either feel so good about ourselves that we will not need a Savior or we will feel so painfully worthless that we won't believe that He died for us.

Christ is what gives us our value. We measure ourselves by Him. We fail in comparison to His glory, and yet Romans teaches us that we are co-heirs because of our salvation! That is AMAZING! Another verse that I thought of while I was typing is found in 1 Corinthians 4:7 "For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?"

The truth is all of us can do something better or worse than someone else. I think all of us are familiar with the "parts of the body" passage. Let us not rob each other of our value by comparing ourselves, or let The Accuser tell us things that are not true. God teaches us that we are precious in His sight and honored and loved. Let's meditate on that. If you can climb higher, than you can help me reach what I cannot. If I can snap louder I can call for help when you get stuck!!!

Let's walk in the freedom that Christ has provided, that freedom to live in fellowship with Him and to be exactly who He has called us to be. SNAP!

A I currently playing one of Bebo Norman's songs over and over again, are my favorite lyrics:

I want to hide in You
The Way, the Life, the Truth
So I can disappear
And love is all there is to see
Coming out of me
And You become clear
As I disappear

I don't want to care about earthly things
Be caught up in all the lies that trick my eyes
They say it's all about me
I'm so tired of it being about me¦ (I always sing this really loud!!!)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Heart Trouble.

So, I mentioned that God was going to turn my world upside down, right? Well, it's not totally upside down, but my heart has been revealed and it ain't pretty. So, what happened? Well, I have committed to keeping another child in my home for the next couple of months. This is NOT something that I do very often (like NEVER), but the Lord has made it clear, and I want to obey. I'm seeing that the "Love Chapter" is easier to memorize that to actually do.

I want to see people the way Christ sees people and love the way He loves. Guess what? I'm WAY off the mark! My kids are also having a tough time with this. I'm very thankful that their heart conditions have also been brought to the light. It is our desire that our children think of others before themselves and include many people in our family. Julia is having the hardest time. I'm not quite sure why, but we are praying and discussing how Jesus can change our hearts and bring love for many. So, here is the scene:
We were outside last week playing with play-doh, just sort of hanging out and Julia said something kind to the child. Wanting to seize the opportunity to praise her for that I said, "Julia, I love to hear you speak such kind words." She then replies, with her sweet little girl voice, "Yeah, eventhough I don't want him here, I can still say nice words." AAAHHHH!!!! I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

See, I'm pretty big on the heart. I don't want well behaved children. In fact, I'd rather my children throw a big huge tantrum so that I know what is in their heart, than to pretend like all is well and be squeaky clean white-washed tombs. The problem here...that was my heart as well. I love having more's more work, more time in the potty...way more money at Chick-fil-A...but I do love the challenge. I just realized that I want everything on my terms. I want to serve the Lord, but I want to list all of the particulars. I want it to be a perfect scenario. Well, perfect scenarios do not typically exsist and they sure don't conform us to the image of God!

This verse came to mind as I've been sort of sifting through all of my sin/emotions, "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight. O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer." Psalm 19:14 It's not only what comes out of our mouths. We can't just fake it and think that it's OK. We can't have one thing in our heart and provide lip service to the world...we definitely cannot fool God.

I don't know about you, but my heart needed a change. I needed to be stretched in my capacity to love others out of an overflow of my love for Christ. As I study the Word and relive and remember where He found me, how can I not open not only my home, but my heart as well, to anyone that He puts in my path? I'm certainly not finished, but I still have a few months and I sure hope that I don't look like this when it's all said and done!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The first official Entry...

For those of you who are curious, my other blog, Harvest Classical Academy has a rather lengthy post with more to come. Thank you to those who have already shown interest...the blog itself isn't finished, but neither am I! Thanks...I've got some cold water coming...inspired by Julia, my crazy girl!!!

Friday, January 16, 2009

I'm Alive.

What a sweet day for me. It's just fun to remember that this was the day that I made a decision to follow Christ. The other post, that I deleted, lacked scripture. I would like to take you through my story with scripture. I hope that it blesses you.

"There is a way that seeems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death. Even in laughter the heart may ache, and joy may end in grief." Proverbs 14:12-13
This would be high school. I had a great time! My social life was fun, I had a job with great hours, but the only problem came when the lights were out and the day was done. My heart did, indeed, ache for more. I knew there had to be more to life, but couldn't put my finger on it. I worked with a guy who exemplified Christ in a truly biblical manner. Watching his life, listening to his convictions, it only made the void feel bigger.

" 'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.' " Jeremiah 29:11Graduation came and went and I didn't have a "college plan." Most of my friends went away to school. There were a few of us who stayed in town and on the weekends we'd visit those who went away and I wanted my own dorm room, too! I didn't know where to go, so I consulted the pile of college brochures that I had collected and decided that I liked the campus of Georgia College the best. I had heard that it had an excellent School of Education (it does) and had heard that there were also a few ministries on campus. I wanted to get a little taste of "religion." So, winter quarter I moved in with DeAnna and Ursula. DeAnna would soon become one of my dearest friends and a woman with whom I would run the race with.

"My people have committed two sins; They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water." Jeremiah 2:13

This is what I found out the first few weeks of school. I was so desperately lonely I could barely stand it. I hadn't needed to make new friends in years and now here I was pretty much starting over. I did have one friend from high school who was on my hall (hey Jaime!)but she was not there for the first few days. I was pretty anxious to get on campus and needed to be there for all of the orientation stuff. When I did finally begin meeting people, they all said the same thing. I began discovering why I had a void. I was created to be in a perfect union with God, but because of the fall of man I was separated from God...and my heart longed for Him. We were all created with a longing for Him, and yet we try to fill it with things of this world that we think will satisfy. It's like filling up a jug of water with holes in the just will not last. I had calloused hands from all my digging, and I was getting thirsty for some living water.

"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:23
The problem. I was working hard to get to God. I was a pretty decent girl, but I was just plain not able. Through conversations with many believers on campus I came to the understanding that without Christ I was not only doomed, but I would remain, forever, unsatisfied. I recognized that Christ was a gift to me. It was God's plan to reconcile Himself to me (I'm being selfish, it was a gift of reconciliation to all of us). Because of my fallen state (Romans 3:23) I could not live in harmony with God. We were enemies. There was a cost to my salvation. God's word tells us that without the shedding of blood that can be no forgiveness of sins. Hebrews 9:22 Christ bore my sins, in His body on the tree, so that I might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds I was healed! 1 Peter 2:24 This was incredible news for me. My wounded heart, my anxious mind, my desire to know God...Christ made that possible on the cross. That was explained to me over and over again and pretty soon my heart could barely stand the separation any longer.

"But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions-it is by grace you have been saved." Ephesians 2:4-5
It was a cold Thursday and I was a bit out of commission. I was snuggled up in my room when some girls down the hall stopped by. Thankfully the conversation ended on Him, which I was thankful because I LOVED hearing how He had transformed lives. I had counted the cost. I had pondered whether it was worth it, whether it was real. I came to the conclusion that it had to be true. I remember spending that entire week contemplating. I was pretty sure that some things would change in my life. I was pretty sure that my decision would effect everyone and everything... and it did.

That day a line was sort of drawn in the sand. One of the women very gently asked me what could be keeping me from choosing Christ. I only had one answer..."nothing." I prayed right there in room 603 of Bell Hall and that one prayer has probably been one of the least spiritual, and most productive prayers I have ever prayed! Admitting my fallen state, asking for forgiveness and surrenduring all that was dear to very life...all made possible by Christ's work on the cross. I was ecstatic!

I remember laying in bed that night, in my bottom bunk and saying to Dee, "I am just so excited, I want the whole world to know!"

I haven't made it to the entire world, yet, but I did make it to Africa where I met my husband and married him one year later.

"Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creation;the old has gone, the new has come!" 2 Corinthians 5:17
This was the first verse I ever committed to memory and I have had to cling to it by my fingernails somedays when I believe that I'm just the same old gal. There is nothing like the transforming power of God Himself to change a life and turn it upside down. There were definitely some changes. Some were easier to make then others, but they were made. I took advantage of every opportunity to grow in my relationship with Him. I also learned that it wasn't religion that I wanted at all, but rather a relationship.

So, that's my story and I'm stickin' to it...or rather, it's stickin' to me.

"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height or depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38-39

Changed My Mind

Some of you may or may not have read the post that I just deleted. 12 years ago today, I gave my life to Christ. I wrote my story, but left out anything that could help someone else make a decision. I'm going to redo it, because I want to share it...I'm so glad for those of you who have read it (and commented...thank you!)and I'm looking forward to sharing again...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Coming Soon...

I'm putting it off because I'm a little nervous, but it's time for me to give a little. I have learned so much from so many women in regards to homeschooling, and as soon as we have our name and our mission statements in cement (naming our school has been almost as difficult as naming our children!) I'm going to have a separate blog for that. It is my desire to share and spur on all of those women who have done that for me. I'm going to share our curriculum, our read-alouds, our philosophy...just let you in my house, be a fly on the wall. Then you'll know where all the other posts come from! Don't worry, I know not everyone who reads this homeschools, I'll still be around with a cup of cold water.

So, I'm posting this to hold myself accountable...I'm really rather excited about it!

Check back soon...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Set the Table

My children are old enough to help. Anson actually earns a little bit of cash-ola and Julia is learning how to do her jobs in an excellent manner and will earn money when she's older. I love it when they come to me with their willing little spirits and ask, with a twinkle in their eye, "Mom, what can I do to help you?" Now, usually when they ask this I am in the kitchen, so my response is, "Well, for starters you can GET OUT OF HERE I'M TRIPPING ON YOU!" Not really, but it goes something like, "Yes, please clear off the table so we can have dinner." or maybe, "Yes, please put the silverware on the table." You know what they almost always say to me, "No, can I help you." What they mean is, "I want to be near you. I want to watch what you are doing and be helpful." I cannot get them to understand that if they will obey me, they will be helping.

Most "good Christians" ask God, "What can I do to help you?" We want to be useful to Him. We want to have a job to do and know that it is from Him. However, all too often our response to His "job" is, "Well, I don't really want that job. How about..." You know those, "anytime, anywhere, anyone" prayers turn into, "5:00, Monday afternoon, my favorite friend." When God asks you to set the table, do you tell Him you had something else in mind?

I do. I did. You know what He did? He called me on it. I told Him that it was my desire to be used in any way to impact another family for His name. However that may effect my family and my life. I wanted to be sold out. Totally surrendered. I want my life to be nothing compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.

For those of you with multiple children, what tends to happen when another child comes and does do the job that you gave to the first job-seeker? The first child flips out and yells, "Mom told me to do that! Stop it! Get out of here!" All of a sudden that job is desirable. The other child recognizes that if they wanted to help, that was their chance.

I don't want to watch someone else set the table when God asked me to do it. The "what" is not the point, it's the "who." I am not serving the what of the job, I am serving the Who of the task. If God asks me to do something, I want to count it pure joy to do whatever seemingly menial task He gives me. Recognizing that it is a privilege to be used by Him, for the purpose of advancing His kingdom.

Are you following me? Serve with joy. Serve with gladness. Don't be afraid of the job. He'll ask someone do it, or better yet, do it Himself. I want to be a part of whatever He's doing. Whatever it costs me.

What has He asked you to do?

He's going to turn my life upside down...starting Monday.

"Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked."
Psalm 84:10

"Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams." 1 Samuel 15:22

Friday, January 9, 2009

Goin' On a Bear Hunt: a blogella

My Ella is really cute. She's two. She's really demanding. She's two. She's cute. Her favorite book is "Going on a Bear Hunt" it was purchased as a birthday present for Anson's 2nd birthday and we have not tired of it, yet! (Thanks Smiths!!!) In fact, I bought two for Christmas to give as gifts because we enjoy it so much.

Yesterday I had a little "Blog-ha!" while we were reading it for the,I don't know, hundredth time. For those of you not familiar with this story it's about a family that is going on a bear hunt. They get to obstacles and the "chorus" is, "We can't go over it, we can't go under it, OH NO! We've got to go through it!" Ella's face is adorable while she's singing this with me. Yesterday, this hit me...

"We can't go over it! We can't go under it! Oh NO! We've got to go through it!" God is good, but life can be hard. There are certainly situations that we come to and think, "This is awful. I just want to go back to bed and pretend that nothing happened." Some of us can recall that "thick oozy mud" that we had to struggle through, while others are standing it the "deep,dark forest" right now. Those things that God has prepared for us, ordained for us, cannot be avoided, and should not be avoided. When we walk through the "long wavy grass, and the whirling, swirling snowstorm" we have a promise to cling to. Do you want it? There are several, but this one in particular comes to mind.

"Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior." Isaiah 43:1-3

Here we are at the beginning of a new year, a new adventure, let's look it in the face and say together, "We can't go over it! We can't go under it! Praise God...we get to go through it!"

It is in those experiences that we come to know God deeper, more intimately, we don't want to miss out on that, do we?

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Cleanin' Up Christmas

So, today was the day. We started removing the ornaments (the ones that survived!) taking down the garland, switching out the candles...just putting Christmas away. I decided that I needed to clean out the Christmas boxes because there were decorations we don't use and trash that we don't need, and we pull them out of the attic EVERY year! So, while Mike painfully removed hundreds of twisty wire things to release the broken lights from our pre-lit tree, I cleaned up, cleaned out and got things ready for the New Year.

Christmas seems dirty after the 25th. I'm not sure if it's just the weather around here, rainy and muggy, or if it's just the end of such an exciting time. The Santa's are deflated, the lights are dangling, the music has returned to the kind I don't's over. You know what though, I get excited. I get so ready to pack Christmas up and get moving into the new year.

It bothers me, though, that I "put Christmas away." We "get it down" and then we "put it up" then we "enjoy it" then, at last, we "clean it up and put it away." Why? Because we have other decorations to enjoy, of course! No! I was thinking about this while I was sweeping and I thought, "I am so full of hope because of Christmas that I want to move forward. I want to take advantage of my new start, my clean slate. My heart is refreshed, my mind is focused, my desire is to move forward compelled by His love."

I want to celebrate Christ, yes, but I want to get out there and be joyfully contagious because of the Savior that I just celebrated. I want people to come to my home and not find it dripping with decorations that prove I celebrated, I want them to come to my home and find it dripping with grace and mercy. Sometimes you better call first! HA!

Christmas is the reminder that everything is dirty. Creation is not what it was before the fall, and we are in desperate need of a Savior. Not only do we need a Savior, we need the Counselor that Christ left us so that we wouldn't be alone down here.

Around October and November I start longing for Him. I am exhausted by the events of the year and I'm ready to celebrate the coming of the King. I'm ready to slow down, reflect, and enjoy the warm fuzzies of it all.

Not now. I want to enjoy the discipline that comes from knowing Him, the freedom that comes from being saved by Him and the life-change that happens as I follow Him. Yeah, I'm excited. He is definitely something to be excited about. Happy New Year.

"The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thnaks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain." 1 Corinthians 15:56-58

"Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love." 1 Corinthians 16:13-14

Those verses just caught my eye as I was flipping through the Bible. They may not "go" but God's word is all living and active. Sometimes my favorite thing to do is just flip through the Bible with a good friend and say, "Oooh, that's good." So, I invite you to flip with me...what's your favorite verse?