Friday, March 30, 2012

Finish What You Started

There has been a phrase going through my heart RELENTLESSLY for the last several weeks and it has greatly increased since attending Hearts at Home. 

"Finish what you started!"

How many times have we said something similar to our kids?  I don't know about you, but in my house some version of this thought is verbalized countless times every day.  My kids have a habit of starting a task and not finishing it.  They are so easily side-tracked.  To be honest, it's so very frustrating to me and it's one of those "button pushers" that gets me irritated.  I'm actively working on how I handle that situation with them and my response.  Some great progress has been taking place. 

Yet, that phrase has been speaking to my heart on many other levels. 

It's a matter of the heart. 

I'm finding that so many of us are just discouraged, overwhelmed, and just exhausted.  If you are feeling that way, you are SO not alone. 

Part of us, even possibly a BIG part of us, are ready to just give up. 



Your individual task that you are ready to just give up on may be different than mine, but it's still the same at heart. 

If God brought you to it, don't give up.  If He is asking you to do something, be obedient.  It doesn't matter if the person next to you thinks you are crazy or calls you a freak (happens often for me!), walk in obedience.

We all face situations that just wear us down and make us want to just give up.  Don't.

Remember why you held on so long in the first place and STICK with it.

For me, it's been frustration over how alone it feels at times to live differently than the world's standards.  It's been a bit of homeschool burn-out that we homeschool moms all tend to face at times.  It's been the extra effort needed to stick with some changes God has put in my heart and not giving up when obstacles have blocked the way.  It's been about doing the hard things and being vulnerable in healing from some deep scars.  It's been about keeping my eyes focused on Christ.  It's been about completing tasks (for many of us that has been this B90 session that ends tomorrow) that God has put on our hearts.  It's been about keeping marriage as the top priority.  The list goes on....and on....and on....

The answer is still the same. 

Don't give up.

Finish what you started!

God didn't make a mistake when He called you to a certain place in life.  You may feel like He made a mistake (I know I feel this way OFTEN), but He didn't.  He doesn't call the equipped, He equips the called!

You may just need your batteries recharged.  You may just need to be surrendering to Him and letting Him overtake every task in front of you, from the smallest to the most overwhelming.

At Hearts at Home, I attended an incredible workshop by Linda Schultz Anderson called "In The Middle of the Muddle".  It was one of my top 3 that I had selected several months ago when I registered.  I have a post planned in the near future about some things I learned in her workshop about saying yes/no to tasks that have been SO beneficial already in my life, but I wanted to share a bit of encouragement I found from her that has really helped me focus lately on finishing my task.  "My task" as one of God's girls, as a wife, as a mother and specifically a stay at home mom, home-educator.

It comes from Hebrews 12:1-3.  It has been so powerful that I'm working on memorizing the passage to help keep it in the forefront of my heart.

"Therefore since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that easily trips us up.  And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.  Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame.  Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God's throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won't become weary and give up."

The three points that she helped us see from these verses are (using "running" as an illustration):

Focus: What are you looking at?  Looking around (comparison trap?), inward (self-pity, mama-guilt), downward (worry).  Our eyes MUST be fixed on Jesus.  NO other way around it! Love God, listen to His voice and Follow Him.  Practice living a Deuteronomy 6 lifestyle. 

Gear:  What do you carry with you?  TMS--too much stuff, TMI---too much information, TME---too many expectations, TMA---too many activities, TMT---too much technology?  What do you need to let go (which will be a future post)? What do you need to lighten up? Lighten up might mean giving up things OR it might just simply mean LAUGHING!

Running Buddies:  Who are you running with?  Who are you buddies and mentors?  You MUST have those around you that support you and cause you to keep your eyes focused in the right direction!  We need to mentor younger women and learn from older.  We need woman around us that ENCOURAGE us.  It's a necessity!  (Thank you to those woman that are truly touching my life right now.  You've been a life-line and I'm so very grateful!).  We aren't meant to run alone.

We can't give up.  WHATEVER your task is:  FINISH what you started.  KEEP going!  Don't become weary and give up. 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Small, BUT MIGHTY Marriage Tool

This post may seem a little odd.  It may seem out of place. 

However, I want to introduce you to a powerful tool.  It's a simple little gadget.  Extremely inexpensive.  It doesn't take up much room.  You can use it almost anywhere and the possibilities are limitless. 

It can literally be a tool to salvage a marriage. 

Drum roll, please......

This little gadget is simply a dry-erase marker.

Yes, a dry erase marker. 

Now before you call the insanity police and have me hauled off for finally losing it, let me explain.

In today's world we don't sit still.  We are running from the moment our feet touch the floor until the second we crash in bed at night and fall asleep.  Staying connected to your spouse HAS to be your top priority (only second to your relationship with Christ).  Yes, that means your marriage is even above your family!  Admittedly, this was a HARD lesson for me to learn.

Sometimes, it TRULY is the small things that make a HUGE impact. 

A simple dry erase marker can be one of those things. 

I've been overwhelmed lately with the incredible impact this little tool has had on my husband and I both. 

Leaving each other notes has been the catalyst for so much connection for us.  It really takes no more than a couple of seconds, but the impact is HUGE.   I typically write on my husband's facebook wall most every day, many days multiple times.  It gives him something positive to see in the middle of the day when his day is hard.  It helps us stay connected as a family and as a couple.  However, it is those other notes that the "world" doesn't see that makes such a huge difference in how connected we stay. 

Taking the time to be POSITIVE and ENCOURAGING can truly impact each other's day.  I can't tell you the countless number of times I've seen one of his little notes for me and it has been a LIFELINE! 

We have a large dry erase board in our foyer that we've used for a couple of years now, but our newest place for leaving notes is our bathroom mirror.  It's "our" space.  It doesn't have any family messages or "to-do" lists.  It's just purely for us. 

Be encouraging.  Be uplifting.  Leave relevant scripture. Let him know you are praying about something specific he is facing.  Be playful or flirty.  (Trust me, THIS can be fun especially when you have to be creative and write in code because you have a house full of kids.) Some days even the simple  "I love you" can leave an impact.  Taking those few seconds (literally JUST a few seconds!) can make such an impact.

Get creative with it.  There are countless places you can leave a note.  You can even just leave handwritten notes on paper or post-its, but we love the convenience of the dry erase marker.  Many times I've taken pictures of notes because they've meant so much to me. 

Let's face it.  We ALL need encouragement.  We all need to know that we are valued and loved.  A small gesture that costs no money and such a fraction of time is PRICELESS.  In a world saturated with so many things pulling at our spouse's attention, they NEED positive encouragement from us.  They need us to help them keep their focus on Christ, our marriage, and our homes.  They need to know that WE are the safe place for their hearts and their focus.  Seeing positive notes can truly keep your hearts connected in a crazy world! 

Try it!  See if it doesn't make you feel a new connection to your spouse. 

(This also works really well for kids, too!)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Cleaning out the Corners

All of yesterday and today, I've had a thought that I can't get out of my head.  Another one of those "strange" ways that God has grabbed my attention. 

I'm a neat freak.  I'm a germ-a-phobe.  I thrive on organization. 

Granted, I live in the real world.  We are busy.  I have three kids (two are boys, enough said!).  I do part-time childcare.  My kids are always home since we homeschool. 

Maintaining the "order" my brain craves isn't always easy.  As a matter of fact, it's so hit or miss it's better described as miss.  Everyone in this house knows that Mom is in a drastically better mood and fun to be around if the house is up to "my" standards.  Because I value my kids and husband above those "standards", many days we are living in controlled chaos. 

Unfortunately, I have a VERY bad habit of making junk piles.  I "need" my main surfaces clean or I have trouble focusing on the task at hand.  So the solution when I'm pinched for time is to just start a stack somewhere.  My intention is to come back to it and put it up later.  "Later" doesn't happen and the piles just start to grow.  The biggest hot spot is our master bedroom.  Almost every corner ends up with stacks of paperwork, crafting projects, books I'm reading (which can be 10 or more at a time), kids projects, binders of meal planning/household projects, card writing supplies, church supplies, and ALL things you can imagine that is school related.  Those little piles become massive stacks and then I find myself too overwhelmed to sort it out and put it away.   As I sit on our bed at the end of the day, trying to clear my head of the stress of the day and to switch gears to focus fully on my husband, all I can see is that though the main part of the room is clean (typically dusted at least every other day, vacuumed multiple times a day) the room is a mess because of the overreaching piles.  They "creep" into my thoughts and I allow them to overtake my heart. 

One day last week, I attacked those piles.  I cleaned out every last one of them.  I put each item where it belonged and purged (donated, tossed) as much of it as possible.  There is not a single item out of place in our bedroom.  Nothing hiding in the corners.  No stacks of anything.  No overflowing drawers.  No wayward items that don't belong.  Carpet is in full view around every piece of furniture. It was overwhelming in the beginning, but as the day went by and the piles got smaller, I began to relax and take a deep breath.

Coming back into our room now brings about such peace and serenity.  It's no longer a library, school-room, all-purpose room, office, etc..  It's just "our" space.  It has made the most amazing difference.  All because their is nothing lurking in the corners "screaming at me".  (Obviously it's just the voices in my head---but they can get pretty loud!!!)  It's incredible how much of a difference it makes emotionally.  I can enter our room calmly, with joy, and not see or feel chaos. 

All because I cleaned out a few corners.  The room itself was typically spotless and clean. 

I realized yesterday and today that my heart is the same way.  Surely, you guessed by now I was going somewhere with this besides talking about cleaning!

My heart is typically fairly clean.  I can do a pretty decent job of keeping the bad things out and keeping things clean on the surface.  Good things in, good things out.  Striving to live less like this world and more focused on spiritual matters helps keep the surfaces acceptably clean.

Oh, but those corners.

 A little pile here.  A little pile there.  A little junk stack here.  A little junk stack there. 

Before I know it, those little piles are big ones that spill over and out.  A little bit of bitterness.  A little bit of unforgiveness.  A little bit of jealousy.  A little bit of listening to the lies of Satan.  A little bit of disobedience.  A little sin here.  A little there. 

Before long, those "littles" aren't just hiding in a corner.  They have overtaken. 

Just like I can't relax and switch my focus very easily when the piles over take the corners of my home, neither can my heart hold it's full capacity of Christ's love. 

I want more of Him and less of me.  Yet, if I'm not careful...I'm not leaving enough room for Him. 

He can't operate fully in my life with the corners full of junk.  I might can keep things fairly clean on the main surfaces, but if those corners are full of heart is too. 

Here is the good news.  Getting rid of the piles of junk in the corners of my bedroom just took a little bit of work.  Not accepting excuses.  Taking responsibility for my actions.  Putting things where they belong and getting rid of things that don't belong their in the first place.  Forming new habits.

If I give Him full access----no hiding the corners with a blanket (ahem....)---He can clean, restore, and shine ALL the surfaces.   Give Him all the filth.  Let Him sort out what belongs and what doesn't.  It might be a painful process.  Getting rid of some things isn't always easy.   Sometimes it might feel easier to hold onto that last bit of unforgiveness or hold onto a lie because it's easier to believe than the truth.  Yet, we know the reality.  Filth is filth.  Junk is junk.  You can dress it up.  You can organize it.  But it's still junk.  Junk still prevents there from being enough space for the good things to go. 

Just like I can now go in my bedroom and fully relax and enjoy being in there with things clean, not just on the surface, my heart will have the same benefits if I let Him do the cleaning.  Every corner.  Every hidden area.  Once it's clean, there will be room for Him to put what He wants there.  I will hear Him more clearly.  I will not be hiding in shame, but living in the light.  I won't be afraid to let others see the real me, because they will be seeing Him.  I'm pretty positive those results would be amazing!

Monday, March 26, 2012

A Perfect Pet For Peyton Review & Giveaway (5 Love Languages)

I am a big fan of the Gary Chapman books that teach you about the Five Love Languages.  It was such a blessing in our marriage to read those books, determine the ways in which we naturally show love and the ways we wanted love to be shown to us.  It was no great surprise to see that my husband and I were operating in VERY different languages and it explained the basis of so many conflicts of not "feeling loved".  By being more purposeful in speaking the other's language, it has made DRASTIC improvements in the way we communicate our love for each other.  Even now, when we are going through a stressful time period and we don't feel "connected" enough to each other, we can often see that we are slipping back to OUR ways of showing love and NOT showing it in each other's language.  A simple shift in "speaking" and we are quickly back on track.

I'm thrilled to be currently reading the Five Love Languages of Children (will be reviewing that book early in April).  I'm trying to soak in as much as I can from it because it's something that has been on our hearts as parents lately----truly reaching in and grasping the hearts of each of our individual children. 

Gary Chapman (and Rick Osborne) has written a book specifically for children that I absolutely LOVED reading!


About A Perfect Pet for Peyton:

"This wonderfully imaginative children’s hardcover book by bestselling authors Gary Chapman and Rick Osborne, featuring four-color illustrations (with hidden details!) by Wilson Williams, Jr., will help children learn the importance of love. Based on Gary’s highly successful The 5 Love Languages®, A Perfect Pet for Peyton tells an entertaining and playful story of five children who each, with the help of Mr. Chapman and the unique pets at his special emporium, discover their own personal love language. Children and parents alike will experience firsthand the power of the love languages as they cuddle up and spend precious time together reading this book over and over again."

My opinion:  LOVED it!  It's one of the best children's books I've had my hands on in a long time.  It is absolutely ENGAGING.  Isn't that what we REALLY want when we sit down to read with our children?  The illustrations (by Wilson Williams Jr.) grabbed our attention and we literally couldn't wait to turn the page.  Each page also has interactive illustrations that have you searching for hidden insects or looking for specific other things.  The font and sporadic colored text is visually engaging (which is fantastic for BUSY boys!).  The story itself is fantastic.  We follow Peyton,his twin sister Penny, and their friends on a birthday adventure to choose their own perfect pet.  Through the story, we learn that everyone needs love shown in different ways and how our personalities are all unique.  Penny's perfect pet seems strange to Peyton.  By the end of the story, they all have found their perfect pets and each of the five love languages have been explained.  The best part of the book is the quiz at the end.  You can sit down with your child and ask a few questions and begin to find which areas your child feels the most loved. 

As a parent, I give it two thumbs up!  My children give it two thumbs up as well!  Of course, my middle child happens to love the book since he shares the same name as the title! 

Best of all, between this children's version of the book and the current book I'm reading that explains in detail reaching in our children's hearts and speaking their language, I'm looking forward to seeing what kind of changes take place in our family.  I know that our marriage was greatly affected in a positive way by discovering how to reach our spouse.  I can't wait to learn more about each of my children and speak their individual love language.  For anyone that knows our family personally, and as with most other families, our children are DRASTICALLY different!  This mom needs all the help she can get since I KNOW that my own language isn't necessarily the same as each one of my children!

One reader can win a copy of this book, A Perfect for Peyton.  Just simply leave a comment on this post.  I want to keep it simple!  Be sure to leave your name and an email address so I can contact you if you are the winner.  Giveaway will end on April 9th and will be chosen by 

Required fine print:  “Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Sunday, March 25, 2012

B90 Check in Week 13 (Monday March 26, 2012)

This it!  THIS is the finish line!  All you HARD work and COMMITMENT comes in this week.  If you've been able to keep up fairly closely, THIS is the week that you become a FINISHER!  The ENTIRE Bible cover to cover, in 90 days. 

Don't worry if you aren't quite there.  I will STILL continue to cheer you on even if you need more time.  If you are committed to finishing, I'm committed to cheering you along. My husband has never made it past Psalm in previous attempts and right now he is within a week of being caught up.  I know I'm going to be cheering him along even if it takes a few extra days!

This week actually only has 4 days left of reading.  However, THIS is where those two grace days come in giving you two full days of catch up.  Even if those days don't catch you completely up, give it ALL you have and see how far you can get. Thursday's reading is less than normal so that will also allow some extra time to catch up.  Just do what you can.  Push yourself to find extra snippets of time!

Thank you.  Thank you to each of you that has taken this journey in some capacity.  Thank you for sharing your hearts, your time, and allowing God to reach some deep places in your heart.  Thank you for those of you that have shared with the group and allowed your hearts to be touched by one another!

I am so very excited to start hearing from some of you this week----crossing that finish line.  I can hardly wait to hear how God has touched you along the journey.  God bless each of you!

Thank you for allowing me to share in this journey with you!

Monday:  Hebrews 1:1 through James 3:12
Tuesday:  James 3:13 through 3 John 14
Wednesday:  Jude 1 through Revelation 17:18
Thursday: Revelation 18:1 through Revelation 22:21 
Friday: GRACE---catch up!
Saturday: GRACE---catch up!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Are Your Words Committing Arson?

When I attended Hearts at Home last weekend, I happened to find a stack of CDs and DVDs from previous conferences on a bargain table.  Well, those who know me well, KNOW I didn't walk past that table without picking up several!  At $2 or $3, I knew I wouldn't be wasting much money if they weren't ones that really applied to my life right now.

Having finished B90 early in the day yesterday, I found that I had some extra down time last night.  I was feeling really exhausted from a lupus flare up that was ending and my husband made sure I had some extra time to just relax.  I popped in one of the DVDs from the 2010 main sessions. 

Let me tell you......God met me like I totally was not expecting.  That session with Jill Savage absolutely gave me goosebumps and reached my heart like I've not felt in so very long.  I sent Jill a message on facebook last night and told her that it was such a blessing to know that a couple of years after her giving that talk, it was STILL reaching hearts.  Best $3 I've EVER spent.

She taught about the power of words and the types of words our families need to hear (we need them, our spouses need them, and our kids need them).  Though the information was nothing really new, it moved me.  It moved me because of her candor, her transparency, and her honesty. 

Affirming words---inspire courage and can change the trajectory of your life.  It needs to be true affirmation, not just empty words of flattery. 

Accepting words---makes it safe for our family members to express ideas and opinions.  It's easy to "shut them down" if we don't choose our words carefully.  Accepting words communicate that other people are valuable.

Appreciating words---express sincere gratitude.  It does NO good if you feel grateful, but don't express it.  You have to move it from your head to your mouth!  Be intentional!

Apologizing words---these are perhaps the hardest, but the most powerful.  They give life.  Both "I apologize" and "will you forgive me" are equally important.  "Will you forgive me?" requires a response and it helps open the heart for healing.  Most the time we hurt unintentionally, but the results are the same.

Here is the convicting part.  The part that got me exactly where God needed it to.  (Many of us are also moved by Michelle Duggar's soft voice and her teaching on speaking softly and NEVER in anger and gained so much from her similar workshops).  If we are "blowing up" or not speaking positive words, we ARE AN ARSONIST. 

Unfortunately, I am guilty.  Too many times, I blow up.  I get frustrated, overwhelmed, etc... and my patience runs too thin. 

Jill talked about how sometimes we can just feel it bubble up and then it bubbles out and burns those around us. 

We HAVE to take every thought captive.  What we say comes from our heart.  It's a fact whether or not we want to admit it.

If it's anger that is coming out or any non-positive attitudes, we HAVE to examine our hearts.  She gave the example of a report card.  Where are we getting D's or F's?  She encouraged us to grade ourselves in these areas:  bitterness, hurt, resentment, anger, judgment/critical spirit, pride, revenge, hate, and unforgiveness.  We most likely all have areas, if brutally honest, that we can't give ourselves top grades.

Here is the good news.  It's not about earning God's love.  Nothing we can EVER do will make God love us less or more.  It's unconditional love.

We CAN change our hearts with His help.  We can NOT do it on our own.  We have to GRASP the power of God's words in our hearts. 

Here is what reached my heart.  It is so great that I have to share it.  Hope it reaches YOUR heart.

Hold onto what God says about you and me.  Listen to what HIS word says about each of us that have Christ as Lord of our lives:

  • I am God's child.  John 1:12
  • I am Christ's friend. John 15:15
  • I have been bought with a price. I belong to God. 1Corinthians 6:19,20
  • I am united with the Lord. 1 Corinthians 6:17
  • I am a saint. Ephesians 1:1
  • I have been adopted as God's child. Ephesians 1:5
  • I have direct access to God through the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 2:18
  • I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins.  Colossians 1:14
  • I am complete in Christ. Colossians 2:10
  • I am forever free from condemnation. Romans 8:1,2
  • I am assured that all things work together for good. Romans 8:28
  • I cannot be separated from the love of God. Romans 8:35
  • I am confident that the good work that God has begun in me will be perfected. Philippians 1:6
  • I have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7
  • I am God's workmanship.  Ephesians 2:10
  • I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  Philippians 4:13
Doesn't that just reach your heart.  Aren't HIS words powerful?  Those words reach in and wash away the ugly things we are ALL carrying.  It gives us the power to change our hearts when we take hold of this power. 

Soak in these words.  Let them erase the things that bubble up out of us and cause us to "burn" those around us.  We don't want to commit arson with our words.  We want the love of Christ to be what bubbles out of our hearts.  Even when we are tired.  Even when we've not even been able to go to the bathroom alone!  Even when we are running in too many directions.  Even when we don't think we can handle one more thing.  EVEN when someone has hurt us.  Even when frustration is overflowing!

Our kids NEED our positive words.  Our spouse NEEDS our positive words.  We NEED our positive words to reach our own hearts. 

Let's not be arsonists. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

B90 Victory!

Well, B90 group.....

I crossed the finish line! 

I started the week 3 days behind and now I've finished over a week early.

I. Just. Couldn't. Help. Myself.

I have pretty much been reading around the clock for the last couple of days.  I found myself getting wrapped up in a "good" part and couldn't stop.  That "good" part would then run into the NEXT one and I couldn't put it down. 

Fortunately, this was a slower week for us.  We aren't on official spring break, but since everyone around us is we decided to take 1/2 days.  The little one I provide childcare for was on "spring break" this week, so I found myself with JUST enough time to finish up.

I can't help but think back to the time I almost gave up.  I got a bit extremely overwhelmed with so many different responsibilities and situations going on.  I thought I would just stop reading and just maintain my mentorship role.  Thank goodness, I didn't.  THANK YOU, Jesus for your gentle conviction and the leading of the Holy Spirit. 

I've read so many things this week that have made a REMARKABLE difference that I would have missed.  I would have missed out on things that have convicted my heart and are demanding changes.  I would have missed out on blessings for obedience.  I ABSOLUTELY would have missed out on some incredible encouragement. 

I'm just thankful.

Now, I get to cheer each of you on and celebrate with you!  I can hardly wait to start hearing from each of you crossing the finish line.  No. Matter. How. Long. It. Takes!  For the first time, third time MUST be the charm, my husband WILL cross that line!  I can't wait!

So proud of each of you.  Hang in there in these last days.  Don't quit if you can't make the 90 day mark.  Don't stop reading!  We will all celebrate with you no matter how long it takes you! 

Now what?  From experience, I know the emptiness that comes after this intense reading when you don't spend that same amount of time.  I've felt incredible disconnect.  This time I have a plan in place.  I'm ready to go back and DIG deep.  I'm ready to take all of those bookmarks and study, memorize, or find ways to apply.  I'm ready to take it to the next step.  I'm ready to make some changes in my own life and influence my family in a new direction.  I'm just ready.  This particular reading session has opened a door like never before.  I'm ready to walk through it.  No looking back.  Just ahead! 

P.S.  Kevin---this is the results of Stronger. Together.  I love you.  I'm proud of you.  I can hardly wait to hear the phone call at lunch in the coming days that you are finished.  We go there together and we are stronger.  Enough said.  :)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Can't Live on Yesterday's Manna


Manna from heaven.

My heart has been changing today just by thinking about that one word.  Manna.

Let me back up.

This weekend at Hearts at Home was simply put:  life-changing, life-affirming, encouraging, CONVICTING, and brought my heart closer to God. 

Yet, a weekend of such intensity has left me exhausted, overwhelmed, eager to change but not always knowing where to start.  It leaves me hungry and thirsty for more of God. 

However, reality QUICKLY can set in after such a time.  How many of you come home from a vacation just overwhelmed with the let-down that comes?  How many brides have you heard talk about the let down after everything has settled post-wedding? 

What about after a HUGE spiritual high?  Doesn't Satan typically come in faster than lightning and try to steal your enthusiasm and derail you?

Oh yes.  For me, anyway.

Few things seemed to go as planned yesterday.  Don't get me wrong, it wasn't a total "waste" of a day.  Good things DID happen.  Make that GREAT things.  However, I easily found myself coming down from that "high"so quick my head was spinning.  "Little" things grew into big things faster than I felt like I could control.  Mountains out of molehills. 

Maintaining my focus on what I want to change become hard.  Virtually impossible it feels like.  The incredible marriage growth and spiritual growth of the last several weeks seemed to be non-existent. 


Where did I go wrong? 

I didn't really do anything wrong except in my attitude.  I let my focus drop.

I tried to HOARD manna.  I tried to LIVE today on yesterday's manna.

The Bible says that Moses told the Isrealites to "not keep any of it until morning." Of course some didn't listen and they quickly learned that what they tried to "hoard" was full of maggots and had a terrible smell. 

In my heart I learned a powerful, VERY powerful, lesson this morning. 

My attitude was I was ready to give up because I didn't feel what I was feeling earlier in the weekend or even earlier in the month.  Little irritations or obstacles grew REALLY large in my heart and I was ready to completely quit.  Little hurts, unintentional ones, seemed to grow until I took it personally.  "Why bother? " seemed to quickly become my attitude.

Then the word MANNA keep entering my heart.  Out of the blue.  (Which I KNOW was the Holy Spirit speaking gentle reminders to my heart!).

I wanted to "eat" the manna from yesterday---meaning I wanted to just function on the encouragement, inspiration, and connection of the weekend at Hearts at Home.  I wanted to just soak in the incredible connection my husband and I have been seeing happening day after day, more than we ever dreamed possible. 

I was hoarding.  I was trying to live on yesterday's manna.

It doesn't work that way.

It's absolutely vital to remember those feelings, cherish the connection, and hold it close to heart.  Yet, I can't LIVE on it. 

I have to pick up what I need for!

I'm not sure what that might mean for you and where your heart is today, but this is what it means for me and where I am right here today.

  • It means telling my husband I love you today.  I love who you are right now.  I cherish where we've been and where we are going, but right here, right now, I accept you and love you dearly. Don't we all need to hear these words? 
  • It means telling my kids the same thing.  Yes, we have things we need to change.  Yes, we have things to learn.  However, I love YOU.  I love you completely and unconditionally. 
  • It means that I pull out my notes (I literally took an ENTIRE new notebook full of them!) and continue to rewrite them (I do a lot of short hand, abbreviations, and it's hard to understand if too much time goes by and I've not rewritten them neatly and in full).  It means writing out the scripture that I made notes of.  Begin the process of getting it DEEPER in my heart.  It may mean posting notes all over the place to keep them in my view (I'm a visual learner! and thrive on seeing notes of encourgament, scripture.)
  • It means I take those notes and begin to make another set of notes of things I want to change, implement, or focus on.  Then GIVE THAT LIST to God.  Let him lead in the directions I need to go first.  Let HIM control the overwhelmed feeling by showing me HIS purpose and HIS direction, one step at a time. 
  • It means spending time with Him.  Reading His word.  Not counting on what I read yesterday to fill my heart today.  Not letting what I learned from a previous session of B90 be the bulk.  Read it for today.  Focus on it for today.  Fresh.  New.  Alive.
  • It means spending time communicating with Him.  Praying and listening.  Not counting on yesterday's prayer to cover today.  Starting over right here, right now.  Praying without ceasing. 
  • It means laughing and enjoying this moment.  That was a predominant theme of our conference.  Living in the MOMent.  Just taking today and focusing on it.  Yesterday may have been great or it may have been horrible, but today is my focus. 
  • It means purposely fixing my eyes on Jesus---over and over.  As many times as it takes. 
  • It means surrounding myself with things, people, etc.. that encourage me right now. 
I'm sure that list can continue on, but for now I know the direction I need to go. 

I need to go gather today's manna.  I can't gather for tomorrow.  I just gather for today!  I focus on today.  I get my head and heart in line with where God wants me, right NOW in THIS moment.  Yesterday can't be my focus and neither can tomorrow.  TODAY.  Today's manna.

Once the word manna kept going through my head this morning, I did a couple of things that God had already put in my heart and then I sat down to dig deeper about manna.  I went back and read about it in Exodus and looked up some different aspects on  I also did a few searches of what some others had said.  I read this from another blog called "Make Yourself at Home" (one I had not visited before, but I definitely will be visiting more often) and what she said really touched my heart and gently convicted me (for those of you that attended Hearts you may have learned the difference between conviction and condemnation in Julie Barnhill's Imperfect Mother workshop):

We should remember yesterday’s manna with thankfulness, but never hold on to it. We must beware of the corruption that comes from hoarding yesterday’s mercies. For, if we aren’t careful, God’s provisions can become more precious to us than God Himself. We can hold on to the things He gives us even more tightly than we hold on to Him.

How sad when we put our trust in His gifts rather than in Him.

Ouch!  It's easy to do just that!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

B90 Check in Week 12 (Monday March 19, 2012)

If I could do back handsprings, I think I'd be doing a few right now.  However, since I'm a complete and total klutz, I think I will just let my daughter do a few for more!

We are rapidly approaching the finish line.  Granted, once we reach the end we aren't "really" finished since we will want to continue spending time in God's word.  However, I can't help but get a bit really excited that we are so very much near reaching our goal.  Even if you need a few (or even many more!) days to finish, just knowing you have read the Bible cover-to-cover is such an accomplishment!  It will have been worth each and every moment spent. 

The last several days have been completely overwhelming for me, but in a GREAT way.  I was blessed to attend the full Hearts at Home National Conference and I am so completely recharged, rejuvenated, and READY to tackle some new things with God.  At the moment, I am exhausted.  I wasn't expecting that!  It's so strange to be SO encouraged and READY to embrace motherhood in a deeper capacity, yet so physically and emotionally drained.  I plan to take the next several days just soaking in everything I learned and spending some one-on-one time with God as I wait for Him to show me which things I learned that He wants me to focus on first.  I'm sure there will be many posts coming up in the next few weeks!  :)

While I was attending and giving every once of my heart to Him to fully absorb EVERYTHING, I OFTEN thought of B90 and the blessing of having spent so much time in His word.  I noticed something incredible.  Many times speakers would quote scripture, but they wouldn't necessarily give the chapter and verse.  I found that MANY times I KNEW where it came from.  So many times before I would recognize a verse, but I would be CLUELESS as to where it was found in the Bible.  THIS time I often was able to automatically know the reference.  It may not have been exact chapter and verse, but I knew which book and area to look.  When they would give a scripture reference, I was able to RAPIDLY turn to it.  My confidence in using my Bible SOARED.  It was proof to my heart that even though this is FAST reading, it IS SOAKING in.  Though I've known the benefits of B90 for a long time and obviously BELIEVE in the power it brings emotionally and spiritually, this weekend gave me a practical glimpse of how it is changing me and I just sat there with tears in my eyes many times for the gratitude.  OH my.

I admit that I am now about 3 days behind.   I initially planned to keep up with B90 through the Hearts conference, but once I got there I realized that I really needed to give all of me to the experience and I was so overwhelmed in the evenings with how much information I had heard through the day that I couldn't focus on the reading.  I have a plan in place to hopefully be fully caught up by the end of Tuesday night.  I still want to finish strong! 

I pray that each of you have an incredible week in God's word and that something you read EVERY day brings you closer to Him in a fresh new way. 

Reading Schedule for days 78-84 (WOW!!!!  Only 4 more actual days of reading after this week!)

Monday Acts 6:8-Acts 16:37
Tuesday Acts 16:38-Acts 28:16
Wednesday Acts 28:17-Romans 14:23
Thursday Romans 15:1-1 Corinthians 14:40
Friday 1 Corinthians 15:1-Galatians 3:25
Saturday Galatians 3:26-Colossians 4:18
Sunday 1 Thessalonians 1:1-Philemon 25

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

His Word is Alive & Powerful

Today I just want to say thank you.  Thank you for the connection that has come from being involved in B90.  From the very first session as a reader completely reading the Bible cover to cover for the first time....and now in this capacity....oh my....

What a blessing!

Thank you to each of you!

There has been so much struggle in my heart and changes taking place in the last couple of months.  The results have been fantastic, but the struggle has been so very painful at times.  It seems like for the last almost two weeks, Kevin and I have talked deeply almost every second we could squeeze out.  It has been remarkable.  Last night, we were talking about why it seems like all of these struggles to change, grow, and a HUNGER that can't be filled have hit so suddenly. 

His answer surprised me.  His wisdom never fails to amaze me.  His ability to look logically at things is an incredible blessing in our marriage.  I've thought constantly today about his answer. 

It's the Bible reading. 

The word of God is alive. 

Hebrews 4:12 tells us that:

"For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires."

THAT is why I can't quench the desire to grow and change.  THAT is why I want more of Him and less of me.  THAT is why I continue to feel more and more unsettled with the ways of the world.  THAT is why I am full of joy, but discontent at the same time. 

His word is reaching in and cutting.  It's exposing the things in my life that don't line up with His word.  It doesn't just reach the surface level.  It gets to the deepest, darkest, most hidden places.  To expose those things is painful.  It's dividing the things of Him and the things of me.  It's illuminating things that I can no longer accept or tolerate. 

The more I read, the more I memorize, and the deeper I go allows Him to be at work even more. 

Yet, here is the good news.  It's worth it. VERY worth it.  For every change He is making, there is more peace.  There is more joy.  There are more blessings.  There is a closer connection to Him than before. 

His word is alive.  Alive in me.  THAT is the beauty of being in God's word, DAILY!

I'm not content to read just a few verses each day.  Reading a little devotional here and there isn't enough anymore to satisfy my longing.  It used to be.  Completing the B90 challenge the first time planted a seed.  These multiple times and accountability of leading a group has opened the door for Him to let that seed grow. 

The chaos, being overwhelmed, and agitation was because I was fighting against that seed growing.  I was letting weeds grow around my heart.  I was holding onto my will WAY too tightly.  I wasn't willing to step out of my comfort zone.  I didn't want to give up things I used as my "crutch" for when times were difficult. 

Yet, every time I FINALLY give in----peace comes.  Blessings overflow.  Walls break.  Wounds heal. 

IF only I would give in sooner!  One of these days I hope I learn it's best to just not fight it!

The good news is that along with the exposure of things He wants to get rid of in me, His word is also a soothing balm.  It's a giant band-aid.  It's a healing hug.  It's like a pair of fluffy slippers in the winter time. 

His word is full of promises, encouragement, and victory.  Because His word is alive, He can reach in and wipe away every tear.  He can provide peace and can fill us with OVERFLOWING joy.  Not just a smile that you give the world to make them THINK you are happy.  REAL joy. 

Because His word is alive, I can find answers to questions.  I can learn what He expects from me.  It's a how-to manual on just about anything I could ever need. 

Most especially, because His word is alive I can use it as the most powerful weapon against Satan.  When he lies to me, I can quote the truth and He can't touch me.  BECAUSE the power of God flows through us. 

It's unbelievable what power lies in the pages of something that many people consider just a collection of stories.  I think of all the time that I wasted not spending enough time soaking it in.  So much wasted time. 

I'm thankful that even though I'm JUST BEGINNING to scratch the surface of what I can learn from His word that He has placed a hunger and thirst in me that is no longer content to just let it "sit". 

I'm so thankful that His word is alive and that it's living in me.  Even when it's a painful process because He has exposed something that HAS TO BE PURGED or GIVEN's worth it.  So very worth it. 

The Woodcarver Review & Giveaway!

Before have been given the opportunity to review this movie, I had never heard of it.  I knew it would be an appropriate movie because of the values represented. 

What I didn't know is how VERY much we would LOVE it!  It was a very pleasant surprise.  I just keep wondering why Hollywood doesn't get the message that so many of us are in search of these type of movies.  This movie was fantastic for our older children.  Though a couple of scenes were rather intense in regards to a harsh father and a mother/father volatile divorce relationship, it was simply put....fantastic. 

The main character is a teen aged boy that is GREATLY struggling with his faith after the break-up of his parent's marriage (which is why the intense, dramatic scenes are necessary).  The movie takes you through his emotions of acting out in a destructive way and then having to face the consequences.  Fortunately, a special mentor takes him under his wing and not only helps him right his wrong, but gives him the chance to find his faith in God again.  In the process, some amazing other things begin to happen that show the power that God has in restoring hearts and families.  I could tell you what those things are, but I want you to watch the movie instead.  :)

This particular movie opened some great doors of conversation with our older children and even between Kevin and I.  I even found myself thinking about it days after watching it.  *THAT* is why I love movies that are entertaining AND thought-provoking.  Garbage in, Garbage out!  Good in, Good out!  There is nothing like watching a movie that leaves you with a good feeling in your heart and full of encouragement.  *THAT* is the value of faith & family movies.

This particular movie made me think of how thankful I am for mentors in my own life growing up, most especially ones that helped me hold tightly to my faith in hard times.  I also thought about how a main character worked through his feelings of loss by helping someone in need.  That touched my heart because that is one of the ways I found the most solace in dealing with my own loss. 

Woodcarver releases today.  For more information:  Christian Cinema:

One reader will receive a copy of this DVD.  Fantastic movie!  Just leave a comment to enter.  One winner will be chosen by  Giveaway will end on March 20th.  Please be sure to leave an email address so I can contact you if you are the winner!  Good luck!

Required fine print:  “Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Sunday, March 11, 2012

B90 Check in Week 11 (Monday March 12, 2012)

Another weekend has almost wrapped up (much too quickly it seems).  The weather here in central Illinois has finally been incredible!  This coming week we are jumping for joy to see 70s.  It does this mom's sanity good!  I'll be spending the weekend at the National Hearts at Home Conference and just knowing the weather is going to be phenomenal is giving me EVEN more excitement (didn't know that was possible!).  We also had an incredible week with the visit of my precious step-mother.  God surely blessed my heart in deep ways with her visit!

Spring around the corner is exciting.  Refreshing.  A glorious time of renewal.  New growth. 

Reading the Bible the last couple of weeks has done the same thing for my heart.  I'm so thankful for how it has been reaching the deepest parts of my heart and bringing about changes.  I pray that the same has been happening for each of you!

Hopefully the approach of spring is giving each of you a boost as well and that it gives you some encouragement to soak in God's word as well.

I just want to say how thankful I am for EACH of you that have been along for this journey.  Each of you have touched my heart on some level and I'm thankful to have been spending this time with you, connected by the greatness of our Saviour!


Monday:  Matthew 26:57-Mark 9:13
Tuesday:  Mark 9:14-Luke 1:80
Wednesday:  Luke 2:1-Luke 9:62
Thursday:  Luke 10:1-Luke 20:19
Friday:  Luke 20:20-John 5:47
Saturday:  John 6:1-John 15:17
Sunday:  John 15:18-Acts 6:7

Giveaway Winners!

So excited to announce the winners of the FOUR giveaways that ended yesterday.  I will be contacting each of you within the next 24 hours for your shipping addresses.  Congratulations!

Mighty Macs DVD Comment #4 Amanda C.
Three Hearts DVD Comment #1 Glogirl
Guardian Duke Book Comment #2 Danni
Miami Live (Vineyard) CD Comment #4 Laura

Friday, March 9, 2012

Satan: You Lose! (A P.S to the Previous Post)

When deciding to start blogging, my number one promise to myself was to be honest and transparent.  Even if that at times left me vulnerable or revealed my many flaws.  It's transparency and honesty that brings us together and lifts us up.  At least that is what brings me back time and time again to my favorite blogs and different authors' writings.

When I was writing the post that went up earlier today, I admit I faced a struggle. 

JUST as I was writing the post and my heart was full of confidence in that "peace that transcends all understanding", a situation came up that REALLY has put that to the test.  I had just popped onto facebook long enough to make a status update being thankful that God has brought peace back into my heart.  I had JUST sent my husband a "gushy" email about how thankful I am for him and the progress we have made together on some TOUGH issues recently.  I was in process of writing another email to a friend letting her know how confident I was that my heart was healing.  I was VERY much feeling on track with what God had been putting on my heart lately and the direction He had been leading. 

"That" situation that came up rocked me.  My initial reaction was hurt, panic, immediately being overwhelmed, etc..  All of those things that I had just been thankful for NOT feeling, hit and they hit hard. 

I found myself unable to finish the email I was writing.  I struggled to write the post I was in process of trying to finish, proof read, and post.  Satan told me that I should just delete it.  Maybe what I wrote I didn't believe after -all!

Then I did what I've learned to do in recent weeks.  I SILENCED the doubts.  I silenced the panic.  I FIXED my eyes on Jesus.  I immediately began quoting the words of the verses I've mentioned often recently (Philippians 4:6-8).  I didn't have to look it up.  They are in my soul now.   I immediately claimed the promises of God in victory of "this" situation.  I asked a couple of friends to pray with me that the situation would NOT rob me of the joy that I've been experiencing and that it wouldn't send my heart into a panic.  I turned on some favorite worship songs that immediately connect my heart to the place it belongs. As soon as it was feasibly possible, I shared my heart with my husband about the issue.  Within SECONDS, the panic was gone.  The situation is unchanged.  It leaves many unanswered questions that won't have quick answers.  The confusion and concern isn't going to go away quickly.  However, the peace DID come.  Not only did it come for me, it came for my husband as well.  In times before, something similar to this situation would have broken us both in different painful aspects, but instead it immediately brought us together.   Once given the time and privacy to really pray together tonight, I know that that peace is only going to get better and stronger. 

THAT is the power of those verses and focusing on Christ----even in the difficult moments. 

I can't change the news I heard.  I can't change or manipulate it all to work perfectly.  I can't rewind time or decisions.  I can't prevent future hurt that is sure to come. 

However, I can immediately go to the source that provides the calm. 

Today, I learned a valuable lesson. 

When Satan tried to convince me that my thoughts were a lie, that my "peace" wasn't real, etc..  I was able to immediately rebuke that power over me.  It isn't about sweeping the negativity under a rug and ignoring it.  Trust me, the situation is still the same.  The uncertainty, hurt, and other things are still VERY much real.  However, the power that comes from a true, deep-rooted faith in God OVERRULES.   By praying for our immediate needs in the situation (vs. 6), He is already at work and the anxiety is released.  By praying personally and asking others to join us, the indescribable peace has already arrived (vs. 7).  By praying that my thoughts be transformed and focused on the good things (vs. 8), God has already stepped in and shown us some positives that we wouldn't have necessarily seen otherwise. 

The main thing is that we know God is already at work.  We don't know how it will resolve.  We don't know what is in store and have significant questions and uncertainty.  We don't know what difficulties will be involved. 

We know this:  We have peace.  We have joy.  We have God already at work. 

Satan, you lost!  I have to tell you thank you. 

Thank you for giving me a situation that forced me to put into practice what I had been learning.  You see, at first I was furious of the timing.  It seems to always happen that way.  You know the two steps forward one step back (or even two forward, three back!), kind of thing....

Well, this time it was two steps forward and two more steps forward.  So, I have to say thank you. 

You see, "you intended to harm me, but God meant it for good".  (Genesis 50:20 reference). 

So thankful for how deep the word of God is getting in my heart and how it is pouring out when needed the most. 

It's all about where our eyes are fixed. 

The timing is actually perfect.  At first I was so mad that I couldn't even walk "confidently" for two seconds without an attack.  Yet now, I know the timing came perfectly.  This news a couple of weeks ago would have been the LAST straw that would have pushed me over the edge.  Now, there was room in my head/heart to actually process it.  Enough clarity to know the right direction to go.  Confidence that God would provide the needed calm and peace. 

So yes....thank you, Satan. 

You brought me one small step closer to God.  You pushed me deeper into His arms.  You gave me a chance to see if I really believed what I had been feeling.  You gave me the opportunity to show you just how powerful God is. 

You lose.  God wins.  Enough said. 

However, I would be QUITE happy if you would just permanently back off and leave us alone.  Wouldn't hurt my feelings one little bit to be rid of you forever.  But since I know that won't happen, I'll just stick with my Hero that can defeat you with one word!  JESUS.  You don't stand a chance with Him by our side!  :)

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus--How those words REACH deep within!

I finally feel like I have cleared out so much of the CHAOS in my head and heart.  Those crazy things that I couldn't "shut off"; the ones that were causing me to be so agitated and off balance.  I still have so many things I want to change, need to do differently, and "plans"....but I finally have a direction to go. 

Taking the break from facebook so I could have some "white space" to think has been so very worth it.  Yet it was a HUGE struggle to do it.  Ok---it was more of a struggle in my head to just be obedient to what I felt like God had been convicting me to do for a long time.  The actual "break" has been easier than expected. 

Continuing to say "no" to many things so that I can turn my focus to some other things right now.  Most specifically, the focus right now is on my family, my spouse, and my own spiritual needs.  I'll be back in "full" mode of other things at some point---but for now THIS is where God wants me ministering. 

I had an incredible visit this week with my step-mom.  Nothing else to say about that except that it was SO needed and I feel so grateful for this short time we had together.  I always know that we are going to have a great time, but this time it just really did so many "heart repairs".  Because I had already allowed some "white space" to come in,  I was REALLY able to let my heart absorb so much from her visit.

For so long (at the very least the last six weeks), I have REALLY been struggling with being full of anger, bitterness, negativity, and all of those UGLY emotions.  I didn't like that feeling in the least.  So many situations had been going on around us that I just literally found myself unable to breathe.  No matter how much I fought it, prayed against it, asked for help from others..I just couldn't find the peace in my heart or break down the walls that were RAPIDLY building.  It made me feel like such a hypocrite and the guilt that came with it pushed me deeper and deeper into that pit. 

Clearing my head of the CHAOS became the only focus.  I made some hard decisions.  It meant giving up some things I REALLY love.   In the beginning, I felt so incredibly unstable because I was operating outside of my "box". 

Starting over is NOT easy.  Admitting failure in areas is not fun.  Taking risks is not an easy thing for me---I'm such a "control freak".   Feeling like a "quitter" is not in my comfort zone.  Letting some things go or trying different approaches was not initially easy.  Not serving in some areas at church has been VERY hard because I already feel like many of those relationships have changed significantly.   I also find so much of my identity and the different "things" I do outside of our own home and to step out of that wasn't easy.

Yet, it has been the absolute right thing to do. 

My head is clear.  My heart is repairing.  I've been able to sit and REALLY talk with my husband.  (Talking is not usually my main means of communication.  I've always said I'm a writer, not a talker!)   I'm able to pray with focus again.  Even talking through some "hard" things with him or with other trusted relationships hasn't sent me into a spiral of negativity or anger.  God has REALLY reached in and done some repair work and I couldn't be more grateful for the things He is showing me and doing in my life right now.  It hasn't been easy or without "pain", but the results are becoming more clear every day.

Last Sunday, Jason did a fantastic job speaking about keeping our eyes focused on Jesus.  He normally does a fantastic job of reaching my heart, but the timing on this sermon was perfect.  Divine. 

What he was talking about us needing to do, is what I had been doing the last couple of weeks.  Shutting off everything else so I could focus on Jesus.  He used the chorus of the old hymn  "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus" as the basis of his sermon.  I spent so much time this week with the chorus going through my head, soaking in the BEAUTY of the words, and thanking God for the words reaching the deepest places in my heart that I had to research more about the song.  I remember singing it so many times growing up in our little hometown Baptist church.

It was composed by Helen Lemmel.  In 1918, a missionary friend gave her a tract entitled "Focused".   It contained these words: "So then, turn your eyes upon Him, look full into His face and you will find that the things of earth will acquire a strange new dimness. "  It was based on the words of Hebrews 12:2:   "We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God's throne."  These words made a deep impression upon Helen Lemmel. She could not dismiss them from her mind. She recalls this experience following the reading of that tract: "Suddenly, as if commanded to stop and listen, I stood still, and singing in my soul and spirit was the chorus, with not one conscious moment of putting word to word to make rhyme, or note to note to make melody. The verses were written the same week, after the usual manner of composition, but none the less dictated by the Holy Spirit."

When Jason spoke Sunday about feeling overwhelmed, having a lost identity, even struggling with aging, difficulties, and just having CHAOS swirling around in our heads, he was really describing me and the feelings I had been battling.  I may not have been experiencing every issue he mentioned, but the feelings were the same. He talked about how when we are overwhelmed, we don't think clearly.  Can I get an AMEN?  That is EXACTLY what was happening with me.  Reality didn't even make sense.  I was even having panic attacks.  Some had been quite alarming!

When I made the choice to calm my heart in so many areas, in essence I WAS making that turn to focusing my eyes FULLY on Christ.  I was letting the rest of the world go away and letting my heart reconnect to the source of all peace, joy, understanding and letting my faith restore the broken places.  Just like I've talked about before, when I felt God LITERALLY forcing my chest to breathe during some VERY hard moments in the loss of Dad and other recently difficult situations....that same peace has arrived again.  Turning my thoughts to Him (quoting Phil 4:6-8 countless times), digging in His word (thankful for B90 more than ever right now), spending time communicating with Him (praying AND listening), turning to those that know and protect my heart (my spouse & a few very close friends), losing myself in worship, etc... has restored that balance. 

The lyrics of "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus" has truly come to life for me in a very visible, powerful way.  Just as I felt God breathing for me at times, I've been experiencing how the things of earth will grow STRANGELY dim.  The things I couldn't shut off in my head, have in an inexplicable way grown more dim.  Until Jason spoke about this song, I really didn't have the words to describe what I've been feeling and experiencing.  For someone that had been experiencing such overwhelming chaos to the point of panic attacks to suddenly be having overflowing, abundant peace, joy, and is just unreal.  It's that peace that is talked about in Philippians 4:7....the kind that transcends ALL understanding.  More thankful every day that I'm able to claim that verse as my own because I FEEL it deeper every day. 

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,

Look full in His wonderful face,

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,

In the light of His glory and grace.

Though Jason spoke about the chorus/refrain.  I'm also reminded of another part towards the end of the hymn. 

His Word shall not fail you—He promised;

Believe Him, and all will be well.

Aren't those words the absolute truth?!  I just wish I didn't hesitate so often in remembering it.  He proves it TIME and TIME again!  Yet, in my weak selfish, human side, I too often fail to grasp it.

I'm also thankful for Jason's reminder that as long as we are here on earth, we will at times (even MANY) times feel overwhelmed.  Joy and weeping will mingle together during our time on earth.  (Just as in Ezra 3:13).  It's just part of how things are.  It is also something that drives us to keep our eyes on HIM and something that keeps us coming back to Him admitting our needs, our failures, and our complete reliance!  We  I am nothing without Him.  For that reason, feeling overwhelmed just drives me back to Him.  EXACTLY where I belong.  

Sunday, March 4, 2012

B90 Check in Week 10 (Monday March 5th, 2012)

Victory dance!  Victory dance!  This week will complete the entire Old Testament!  For those that are reading for the first time, look what you've just accomplished!  I am so VERY proud of each and every single one of you! 

The middle of this week brings us to the New Testament and we only have just a couple of weeks left until we've finished the ENTIRE Bible---cover to cover. 


Keep on reading----regardless of where you are right now.  Some of you have let me know that you've REALLY made strides in catching up.  Fantastic!  Many of you are just a few days behind and that is excellent news.  Some of you are going to be unable to make the 90 day mark, but are still going to continue until it's completed.  GREAT news!

I started out this session a couple of days ahead (enthusiasm will do that!) and then with time found myself about 1.5 days behind.  Satan REALLY wanted me to just stop reading and just "lead" in a mentor/encourager position and I DID almost give in.  Fortunately, God got a hold of my heart and reminded me that I ALSO want to read again and that I had come to far to just stop.  I'm happy to report since that moment of realization, I've caught back up and am even a couple of days ahead.  Our family is going to be blessed this week with a visit from my precious step-mother and I read ahead to make sure I could spend every minute I could with her since the visits don't happen nearly enough!  Plus, I have spent LOTS of 5 minute windows reading while I've been waiting in line, picking up/dropping off kids....time that I USED to spend just popping on and off of facebook.  It's amazing how much the time builds up!  Using the Bible app on my phone has allowed so much more reading time!

Today at church, our message really reached my heart on several levels.  Knowing me---I'll probably be blogging about some of it in the coming days as time allows and my heart processes more.  For now, I just am so encouraged about what a GREAT GIFT God gave us in giving us His word.  It truly is an amazing thing and I know for one that I've been so VERY guilty so many times of taking it for granted.  Today really helped boost my heart in knowing just how priceless of a gift it is and JUST how much He loves each of us spending time in His word!  Praying and reading the Bible are the greatest ways for us to fix our eyes on Jesus and NOTHING can ever replace that in our hearts!

Here we go with this week's reading schedule:
  • Monday Daniel 9:1-Hosea 13:6
  • Tuesday Hosea 13:7 -Amos 9:10
  • Wednesday Amos 9:11-Nahum 3:19
  • Thursday Habakkuk 1:1-Zechariah 10:12
  • Friday Zechariah 11:1-Matthew 4:25
  • Saturday Matthew 5:1-Matthew 15:39
  • Sunday Matthew 16:1-Matthew 26:56
P.S.  Be sure to enter any of the giveaways of this last week by the 10th! Great movies, worship music, and Christian fiction being given away in previous posts this week! 

Friday, March 2, 2012

I Turn To You- Selah

I have listened to this song MANY times today. Each time I have, it just reaches deeper and deeper. It has meant so much, I can't even really "write" about it. Just leaves me speechless as it reaches into my heart. I think THAT is the beauty of worship. It transforms. Bringing you in contact with the ONE that is worthy of our praise. The one I turn to. The one I CRAVE turning to more and more. The ONE I need to surrender to in so many aspects more every day. Every part of me.

Philippians 4:8, 1 Corinthians 10:23 As Guidance

It's incredible what a few days difference can make in breaking a habit!  Facebook YOU no longer are my addiction!  I will probably pop on and off in the future, but it will NOT be my "normal" way of life. 

Last night, I sat on our bed at 8:00 with NOTHING really needing to be done.  Everything on the list was done.  I didn't crash at midnight still upset because so much was left to do.  I'm EXCELLENT at time management. Being "connected" all the time didn't keep me from getting things done, it just WEIGHED me down to the point that I couldn't focus.  However, those first 48 hours I had to keep moving at lightning speed to keep myself busy to break the hand AND mind habit.  Now that the habit IS broken, I'm still moving at lightning speed.  I've even mopped the floors, vacuumed and dusted every room in the house EVERY single day.  Can you imagine how CLEAN my house smells right now?  Do you know how relaxing that is to this mom's heart?  YES!!! 

Today, I even started scrubbing baseboards and all of those little crevices.  Cleaned this and that.  Organized this and that. 

Then, I still sat here staring at the computer with nothing pressing to do.  I felt like I could officially go on facebook and check a few things.  Mostly I wanted to see what was going on with some friends I truly miss AND I wanted to check on the status of the storms and my family in TN/KY/AL.  I gave myself 10 minutes. 

It took about 3 minutes to gather what information I needed and was "missing".  The next 2 minutes was enough to tell me it was time to get back off AND I did.  I didn't even spend the other allotted 5 minutes.  Those two minutes were enough to remind me WHY I made this decision.  Drama. Not needed.  Compromising values.  No thanks.  Justification of behavior.  No thanks.  Degrading other people.  Don't want part of it.  Stirring up controversy that HURTS people in the process.  I'll pass. 

I NEED people that hold me to a higher standard and provide the means of gentle conviction when I'm walking in disobedience or "flirting" with sin.  I NEED people that provide me with accountability.  I NEED people that uplift and encourage.  I NEED people that point me towards keeping my focus on Christ.  I NEED people that seek to lift up their brothers and sisters in Christ.  I NEED people that drive me to be a better mom, wife, educator, etc..  I NEED people that show me direction when I'm feeling lost along the way.

I LOVED seeing sweet pictures of family and friends.  I LOVED seeing different friends participating with their children in school activities.  I LOVED seeing uplifting quotes and encouraging Bible verses. 

I hated that I missed some situations that I could have been joining in praying for (sick children, accidents, moms struggling with situations, etc...).  I hate that I had lost some opportunities to encourage and support. 

Yet, I can't divide the two right now.  I can't separate the good from the bad enough right now to protect my heart. Therefore, I'm still continuing to take a break.  Just the few minutes and the change that took place in my "thought process" is enough to tell me that I was on the right track. 

I'm living by this verse right now as my guidance:

"And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise."  Philippians 4:8

This verse is how we decide if we should watch, read, or listen to something.  We've used it to mostly apply to TV, but now it's guiding my decisions in regards to other things I let fill my mind/heart.  It's such a convicting verse.  One that often reveals where I'm falling short.  It applies to not only what I expose myself to, but also what thoughts I "fixate" on.  (THIS is a HUGE struggle!)

Paul also says in 1 Corinthians 1: 23:  You say, "I am allowed to do anything"--but not everything is good for you. You say, "I am allowed to do anything"--but not everything is beneficial.  (I love how the ESV says not everything "builds up" and the NASV says not everything "edifies").

Kevin and I have talked about this verse VERY often in recent weeks.  So many things we choose NOT to do are not necessarily sinful in nature so to speak, but they aren't beneficial.  They don't bring us closer to each other, closer as a family, or closer to God.  Some "things" may be OK because of the freedom we have in Christ and because of his Grace (in other words steering away from being "legalistic" ), but if they aren't bringing us closer to Him....then they aren't for us.  THIS is hard at times, so VERY hard----because it's not always easy to give up something we like or love.  Oh many times I've resisted!  Yet, more often than not, the blessings have far outweighed the struggle!

So, instead of spending more time on facebook today and NOT filling my heart with things that line up with that verse.........I found something else to do with my time.

I started painting baseboards, trim, and door frames.  Yes....I think that will do my heart more good.  After all, everything looks better with a fresh coat of paint.  Fresh start.  Clean. (Those are the words I want to describe my heart and my thoughts.)

Living the wild life now....HAHA!!!!  Painting trim instead of spending time (LOTS of time) on Facebook?  Who would have thought!!  You could never have convinced me a few months ago that I would make that choice!  :)

DIY Cabinet Door Chalkboard---FUN afternoon project!

The craft ideas on pinterest drive me CRAZY.  CRAZY in a good way!  I just can't wait for weekends to come around so I can do something for "me" and relax a bit. 

I had been wanting to make wooden shudder message centers for quite awhile, so we took off to our Habitat for Humanity Restore in search of some that would work for what I was wanting.  Unfortunately, we didn't find what we were looking for that day but I did find something that SCREAMED "make ME into something". 

Antique Cabinet Doors with handles and hardware!

I just HAD to have some since they were just .75 cents each.  I'm all about making something new out of something old and spending very little money in the process.

When I bought them, I wasn't quite sure exactly what I wanted to do with them, but I knew I would come up with something.  I just LOVED them and knew they had potential. On the way home from that shopping adventure, my husband said the lines made from the slats reminded him of a chalkboard.  I immediately agreed and a quick stop at Hobby Lobby to pick up some chalkboard paint was all I needed since I had everything else at home.

Getting Started:
the door, rotary cutter & cutting mat, fabric, mod podge, white acrylic paint, black paint, chalkboard paint, paint brushes of different sizes, embellishment (I used ribbon, needle/thread, cover your own button kit), chalk markers (since I HATE traditional chalk), baby wipes for clean up, screwdriver, hot glue gun and sticks

Remove all hardware and hinges.  Clean up the door as needed.
Paint the line indentions with white paint.  I didn't worry about getting it on the main section since I was able to just wipe that off with a baby wipe before it dried. I'm all about cutting corners!  Just make sure the white paint completely fills all of the crevices.
Using a foam brush, I painted the main area with the chalkboard paint, being careful to not touch the white lines. 

I then painted the rest of the door with regular black acrylic paint.  I mostly only worried about getting full coverage on the outside edges since most of the rest would be covered with fabric.  You definitely want to make sure you paint wraps around the edges for a finished look when it is hanging or displayed.  At this point, I also went back and touched up any places that needed some extra TLC.  The chalkboard paint did take several layers. 
Using my rotary cutter and cutting mat, I cut the four needed fabric strips. You need to cut it VERY slightly smaller than the actual measurement for the mod podge to be applied.  This is why I painted the remainder of the door with a matching color (which black worked great and was easy....another color would have made it more difficult around the chalkboard paint and I like EASY!).

Brush mod podge over the cabinet, lay down the fabric, smooth it out, make sure it is straight and then coat the fabric with mod podge.  Repeating for each side.  I let my fabric over lap on the short sides and let the long sides cover them.  I didn't worry about mitering corners or lining them up.  It worked well just overlapping as long as I smoothed it out tightly and applied extra mod podge at the seams.  I also did a bit more paint touch up while everything was drying.

Using a little elbow grease, I cleaned up the handle and then used mod podge to adhere a small fabric scrap around the handle.  After all was dry, I used sharp scissors to poke a hole through the fabric to allow the screws to go back through and reattached the handle. 

Though I liked the finished project as it was, I thought it would be neat to put an embellishment in the corner.  I went through what I had, but didn't really see anything that was "right".  I came up with making a flower from black satin ribbon by making loops and sewing them together.  In the center, I covered a button with another fabric scrap.  I used hot glue to attach it. 

Finished!  Added a piece of ribbon to the handle to hold a marker (otherwise I can NEVER find one when I need it!).  I had originally planned to hang it on the wall, but instead used a decorative plate holder to display it.  I wrote our word focus of  the year"Courageous" and a message that is important to us in helping to work on that goal.  "The only way we'll ever stand it on our KNEES WITH LIFTED HANDS."

Before and after!  Can't wait to start the next one to give as a gift or maybe for my daughter's room or another area of the house. 


Here we go....the FINAL review & giveaway for this week that has been FULL of them! 


As talked about in previous posts, I am a fan of Vineyard Worship.  Having spent time in a Vineyard church and LOVING the worship, I have a soft spot for it.

My thoughts:  Just the cover of the album made me smile.  For this mom that is suffering from being PAST ready for the gray winter to end, it gave me a bit of spring fever.  THEN---I turned it on.  From practically the 1st second, I wanted to get up and dance.  (Yes, you probably don't need that image in your head!  LOL).  The Latin beats are FUN.  I was immediately thinking of Gloria Estefan. Music has a way of reaching into the hidden places and bringing healing, encouragement, and breaking down walls.  The day I turned this on, I was struggling.  I was "down" and very stressed.  This CD immediately changed that.  Within minutes, I was renewed/recharged and even found myself buzzing around the house with energy.  I was also back connected to God in a way that had been suffering for the previous few days.  THAT is what worship does.  THAT is why we HAVE to make sure we pour  GOOD THINGS IN!  I loved that it was mostly new music to me but that it had some "old" favorites with a new twist.  Granted, I admit...this one was a bit different than my typical music style.  Yet, I loved it!  Another great benefit:  there are bits and pieces of Spanish thrown in; it was fun to listen to my daughter with since we are using Spanish as our foreign language.


About Miami Vineyard LIVE:

What happens when a group of 20+ musicians and 10+ songwriters steeped deep in their own musical traditions of Black Gospel, Latin, Caribbean, and Anglo come together to create a new tradition and sound? What happens when the fusion of Black, Anglo, Latino, Caribbean, and Cuban voices unite together to worship in one voice? Among the 2000 people that attend the Miami Vineyard Community Church, there are over a hundred singers, instrumentalists and songwriters that make up its eclectic worship ministry. For one night, these musicians joined together in worship and invited the church to document the sound that is uniquely MIAMI VINEYARD LIVE.

This distinctive bi-lingual liturgy is filled with many flavors, from Latino claves to gospel two-step to funk and soul to delay-laden rock guitars of modern worship, yet they all work together seamlessly to create a new sound and voice that is authentic and refreshing. From anthems of praise and proclamation to songs of intimacy and adoration, there is a common thread running deep throughout this recording and that is true worship of the Living God as an expression of His Kingdom breaking in on the streets and beaches of Miami, FL.

One reader will receive a copy of Miami Vineyard Live.  Just leave a comment to enter.  Be sure to leave your name and email address for contact.  Winner will be chosen at Random on March 10th.  This week's giveaway winners will be announced on March 11th. 

“Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Thursday, March 1, 2012

You & Me

Last year for Valentine's Day my husband bought me a PRICELESS gift---a Willow Tree figure called "My Girls".  It was a representation of one of my Daddy's last moments with us.  The moment he took both my sister and my hands and put them on his chest and said "my girls".  Some of you may remember that actual gift brought about a ridiculous marital "discussion" (nice translation of fight!).  Here  

This year, we didn't anticipate exchanging gifts beyond our traditional heartfelt card.  We've been blessed to FINALLY be able to have the opportunity to go out on inexpensive weekly dates (after 13 years of about a total of 10 dates!) and considered our weekly date our "celebration".  However, a few days before V-day, I saw a new Willow Tree that I fell in love with and I had a 40% discount code that ACTUALLY applied (which is unusual).  I broke our "no" gift rule because it meant so much to me.

YOU AND ME----Every day, Building on our Love

I originally bought it because THAT is the way that Kevin and I typically are.  That is my favorite "position" to be when we are sitting around talking ----leaning over his shoulder.   It is my "comfort" place.  Which is probably why I am so in LOVE with the picture on my blog heading (thanks again, JF Image Design).

What touched me so profoundly was after I bought it, I read the artist's description of the piece. 

"This sculpture represents a couple who’s navigating life together – the joys, the challenges, and the daily decisions that come with being a family. I hope it speaks to an appreciation for the little things that make life interesting... and how love can renew itself over and over again. It’s the trust and support of each other through the day in, day out that strengthens love – and keeps us in it for the long haul."

It's a description of us.  It's describes our journey of focusing on "Stronger. Together."  It represents the commitment of marriage (for those of us that believe fully in the covenant of marriage, not a "piece" of paper as the world seems to think it has become). 

Marriage isn't always easy.  We say or do things things that hurt each other.  We my lose track of our priorities and cause our spouse to feel "invisible".  Trust may be broken.  Wounds may be hard to recover from.  Every marriage has those issues if you've spent any time together TRULY living in partnership with each other. 

Life gets in the way.  Situations outside of us hurt us, causing our own hearts to break, which in turn affects our spouse.  Our faith may waver and falter in a harsh world.  Disappointments are plenty.  Confusion and chaos are easy to enter in. 

Yet, Love Remains when you are committed to one another.  When you work HARD at compromise, forgiveness, and putting the other's needs ahead of your own at times...Love Grows.  When you turn to God and let him lead your life together, clinging to Him during the storms and praising Him regardless of whether there is joy or pain...Love Builds. 

It IS a daily requirement that you recommit to each other and put each other on top of your priority list.  It IS a constant reminder of the need to be growing together spiritually.  It IS about the LITTLE things.  It IS about saying "I'm sorry" or "I forgive you".  It IS about laughing together (even when you would rather be crying!). 

I'm so thankful to have found my "forever love" and thankful for the support that he gives me.  It is many, many times far from perfect....but because of the daily decision to be committed through the hard times and thankful during the GREAT's a BEAUTIFUL LOVE. 

And to think.....someone told me just before my wedding day that I'd never see our 2nd anniversary and that I wasn't "material" to be Suzy-Homemaker. 

God knows best.  For HE saw the "You and Me" and knew that we WOULD build our love, every day.  For He already knew that our foundation was in Him and that HE would see us through each and every once of those hard times and the ones that are most assuredly to come.  He knew would struggle and almost break, but He also KNEW that those times would build the foundation for the strength we have now.  I could NEVER be more grateful for anything else in this world.  EVEN on the hard days!