Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Hey GOD, I've Got Some Guy Named Jonah in My Stomach and I Think I'm Going to Throw Up!

"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in 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." (Required Fine print!)

I am beyond thrilled to share an ADORABLE book with you and can hardly wait to give it away to one of you!


BOOK trailer: here

This PRECIOUS book is geared for ages 4-8 and my 6 year old absolutely LOVES it!  Guess what?  His Mom does, too!

Ever wonder what the WHALE thought about Jonah being in his belly?  I mean, really?  Don't most of us with any childhood background in church know all about Jonah?  Don't we know the story of what happened to Jonah when he was disobedient multiple times to God's calling?  What about that whale?  

This book is part of a series that releases tomorrow, May 1st.  Others in the series, so far, are about what it was like to be on that smelly ark with Noah and wandering around Egypt thanks to Moses.  The books are affordable (can be purchased HERE) and we are in love with them.

Aside from retelling the Bible story from a different perspective in a humorous, catchy way, the illustrations are VERY engaging!  We honestly couldn't wait to turn the page to see what was on the next one!  

My son LOVED it and I love that he loved having it read to him and reading it himself.  Another GREAT feature is something called "Parent Connection".  This section helps parents take the book a bit deeper with scripture references about the "moral" of the book (in this case obedience).  Great questions to ask.  Activities to do. FANTASTIC for some family devotional fun!  

About the Author: 
Troy Schmidt has writing and video production credits ranging from assignments with Disney (The Mickey Mouse Club) and Nickelodeon to Max Lucado's Hermie franchise. He is currently the lead writer for The American Bible Challenge hosted by Jeff Foxworthy on the Game Show Network. Troy and his wife have three sons.

One reader will win a copy.  To enter:  leave a comment telling me your favorite Bible story/"character" or your child's favorite!  Be sure to leave an email address so I can contact you if you are the winner!  Giveaway will end on May 10th (8 PM CST!).  

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Rest

I'm no stranger to drained energy.  I have battled lupus for about 16 years now.  I'm a mom of 3 kids that are home ALL the time since we have home educated since the beginning.  I'm a care give of two under two.   Even by purposely stepping back from so many things we used to participate in or volunteer for, life still is packed full and doesn't slow down. So yes, being tired is nothing new.

Yet, sometimes that exhaustion hits really hard.  Today was one such day.  I'm not in full flare mode, just mild, but these last three weeks have been physically and emotionally draining.  We've just had countless situations and stresses attack at once.  Murphy's Law has been a frequent visitor.  It's just been one of "those" seasons.

One thins that has been VIVID during this time is that despite the circumstances or struggles, JOY has overflowed in abundance.  I've not felt defeated or gone into that pit of depression.  It's actually been comforting to feel STRONG.  Even through hard situations, I've felt a strength that was missing for so long.  Kevin has been purposely praying joy over our day before he leaves for work and it's been making a marked difference.

GOD is GOOD!  He provides.  He fills in the gaps!

Yet tonight, I literally dropped when I came in from playing with the kids and after my "little" got picked up by his Mommy.  I wasn't even for sure if I could drag myself to the bedroom.

Tonight (Thursday) is my night off----as it is called in our home.  I typically go out and do something for a couple of hours for myself.  I typically find a spot to read, occasionally shop, and mostly just soak in some quiet and calm.  Tonight, we had to turn mom's night out in to mom's night in because this mom couldn't move a muscle!  After a bit of quiet and an amazing dinner my husband brought home for me, I began to feel more relaxed and not as "defeated".

A hot shower is what I thought would be the best remedy.

Oh, it did feel good....but it wasn't the remedy I was needing.

God was.

He met me, once again, in the shower.  Apparently, that must be the place I think the best and my heart is the most pliable. Must be that as my body relaxes, so does my brain.

The REAL rest I need is from Him.

Over and over, my heart kept hearing, "Come to ME and I WILL give you rest."  The entire words of Matthew 11:28-30 spilled into my soul in a powerful new way.  It TRULY touched the weary and exhausted places.

"Come to ME all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest....."

I'm physically and spiritually exhausted and HE is the key to my rest.

Sleep and relaxation are very important.  They will restore many things and give me the energy to face a new day, BUT....

BUT the true rest comes from Him.

I've not TRULY been turning every thing over to Him.  I've been praying and I've been seeking, but I honestly haven't been surrendering.  I've been guilty of handing things over to Him and then immediately picking it right back up.  The burdens have remained because I've picked them back up over and over.

We've had a recent joke going on in our house the past couple of weeks.  I bought a purse from my dear friend moving to South Africa.  She LOVED it and I LOVE it.  It is VERY large, much larger than what I normally carry on a daily basis.  However, I was carrying multiple bags to cover all the needs (mine, books/Bible/devotional studies, baby gear, etc...).  This one bag is big enough to carry it all at once.  BUT....

It is heavy.

It's jokingly called the suitcase.  Instead of saying "Go get my purse", it's "drag the suitcase."  When Kevin picks it up, he makes a ratcheting crane motion and sound effects.

It gets the job done.  It's fashionable.  It keeps me from carrying multiple bags.

I have the option of putting all of my emotional and spiritual burdens and needs in one big bag and letting Him carry it.  Instead I hand it to Him, but it in his hands, but then pull it right back out a piece at a time and fill up my own bags.  I give Him just a little bag full instead of the whole suitcase.  I say, "I trust you".  I say, "I believe in You."  I say, " I know that You have my best interest at heart and I can give all of me to You."

With my words.

But do I do that with my actions?

Unfortunately, not enough.

I'm carrying the weight instead of releasing it.

I'm saying I trust you with "this" much, but not with ALL.

My need for physical rest is definitely there.  However, my heart got the message tonight that my heart needs rest as well.

He's pleading with me to "Come to ME".

Come talk to me.
Come trust me.
Come get to know me more.
Come let me teach you.
Come let my ways be your ways.
Come let my way of gentleness and humbleness be your traits.

THEN...

Not when.

Then....

You will find rest.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

The weight can be lifted and true rest can be found.  Rest for the heart and rest for the body.


Monday, April 22, 2013

Mother India - Orphan Care Documentary Review & Giveaway


I was thrilled to have the opportunity to review the documentary "Mother India:  Life Through the Eyes of the Orphan" by Word Films.  Narrated by Christian music artist, Grammy Award winning Rebecca St. James.

I have to admit, I was a bit nervous to watch this one.  I WANTED to and my heart is very tender for the orphan, especially as we are seeking God's will in knowing what He is asking of us to do in regards to this topic.  I was just nervous because I KNEW the pull on my heart would be even more.

I encourage EVERYONE to be brave and watch this amazing documentary that takes a look at 25 orphans in India.  I want to say this documentary was "incredible"....but it just seems so odd to use that word in connection with such a heartbreaking topic. 

Thirty One.
Million.
Orphans.
Just in India.

"David Trotter and Shawn Scheinoha returned to India to film this documentary hoping to find kids who would be willing to trust them enough to show them life through their eyes. What they didn't expect was to be warmly welcomed by a family of 25 children living along the railway."

It's hard to use glowing words in response to a movie on a topic that is so gut-wrenching, but I definitely think it's a documentary worth the 49 minutes it takes to watch.  It's 49 minutes that will break your heart----but we want our hearts broken for what breaks His, right?

It's graphic and raw.  It's REALITY.  It opened my eyes to things I had not truly thought about in response to life on the street of an orphaned or run-away child.  There just really are no words to describe it other than...compelling. 

I challenge you to watch it.  I challenge you to then ask God what it is that He wants each of us to do in response.  I'm positive that answer is different for each of us, but I believe that we each can do something! 

On behalf of Word Films, I'd love to give one of my readers a copy of "Mother India".  Simply just comment on this post or on facebook and one reader will be chosen at random on 4/29 (give-a-way ends at 8 PM CST).  Be sure to leave an email address so I can contact you if you are chosen as the winner. 

Mother India releases tomorrow, April 23.  It can be ordered from Amazon HERE .  For further information, you can also visit www.31million.org or check out Word Films Facebook Page.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Wrestling Match

I started this post as a facebook status, but quickly found that I couldn't word it effectively in that "little" space. 

Tonight I'm up late with my mind whirling.  It has been a long, but amazing day and I'm quite worn out.  However, sleep won't come so easily because my brain has kicked in high gear.

This morning our sermon was about wrestling with God. 

It can be hard to give up a sin.  We can wrestle with that over and over. 

However, it can be MUCH harder to give up something that is good. 

Do you ever wrestle with the "requests" God makes of us? Do you sometimes struggle with the fact that His ways aren't our ways? 

It's one thing to surrender something bad (a sin), but another thing to surrender something good.  Some thing such as our family, spouse, dreams, will, etc..  To surrender these things means to transfer ownership to God. That can sometimes be tough (especially as our children grow older and prepare to leave our homes and guardianship).

Just a few hours after today's sermon, I had a visual reminder of that surrender and submission to God's will. 

We spent the second half of the day watching a dear family sell their worldly possessions and then pack up and load up everything remaining to donate.  They are preparing to leave for full time mission work in South Africa.  The place the call home now sits practically empty.  Though they won't physically leave for SA until late summer, in just a few days they will be moving about an hour a way to temporarily live with family since their house sold very quickly (Go GOD!!!!). 

NO doubt God placed a beautiful call on their lives.  God has asked them to do something bold for Him.  He's asked them to push past their doubts, give up more than I can imagine....to gain being completely in His will.  His will isn't always comfortable.  Yet, His will is perfect. 

Tonight I'm up thinking about how they have surrendered.  They may have times of overwhelming emotion and uncertainty, but they have committed and are a beautiful example of walking in faith and obedience. 

I'm also thinking of the fact that I'm having to surrender to His will as well.  I have to surrender this precious family.  I have to support and encourage, even when I'm kicking and screaming on the inside!  Don't get me wrong:  I'm OVERJOYED with what they are doing and could not be more supportive of the call they are answering....

BUT....

My selfish heart keeps thinking about the loss I feel growing by the day.  It's getting harder and harder to realize that my sister of the heart will be thousands of miles away instead of just 4.  Technology is phenomenal these days and we WILL stay connected.  I CAN hardly wait to watch and see the daily adventures they find.  I can't wait to have someone close experiencing full time mission work in South Africa.  I can't wait to see these little children grow up in such a unique environment. 

Yet....

Oh. My.

Tonight I'm wrestling.  I'm wrestling with my own emotions.  I'm wrestling with my own submission and surrender.  I'm wrestling with God. 

Yet, I'm clinging.

I'm clinging to God instead of resisting Him. 

Just like a little wrestling match in the middle of the floor with a parent and small child----when the wrestling match is over and that parent covers the little child in slobbery kisses, noisy zerbers, tickles, etc...  when the victory is won...

I'm waiting and knowing that God is right there waiting to cover our friends and their children in those same victorious kisses and hugs in the form of blessings and providing for their desires and needs.  I'm also waiting and knowing that He is going to do the same for those of us staying behind. 

We may be wrestling, but our victory comes in the moment we surrender to God.  We have to surrender the bad (sin) and the good (those things we hold dear!). 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Stuck to Him

There is something I've always known about my youngest, but it's depth and magnitude have been more visible to me lately. 

His main love language is touch. 

And....he thrives with it....

And...he crashes and melts down without it.

From the very beginning of life, he was a mold into your skin little snuggler.  I always have cherished those snuggle moments, but for him it's been far more of a need.

He HAS to touch me.

He HAS to be near me. 

Even now, at almost 7, he comes and finds me out of the blue several times a day for a hug or a kiss. 

It's not good enough to just "half-way" respond to him.

When he snuggles, he has to be stuck to me like a magnet or Velcro.  Just holding him or sitting beside him isn't enough.  He HAS to be stuck like glue with no room to breathe!

Now, don't get me wrong, he's active and independent.  He loves going places and doing things without me.  He's one that is willing to try new things the easiest.

He just thrives on touch. 

Today it was just the two boys at home with me.  My husband was at a men's conference and our daughter was at a church retreat.  Little man definitely took advantage of my attention not being divided quite as much.  I got to enjoy the greatest little snuggly buddy for an afternoon nap. 

He wouldn't even let my arm drop from him.  If it did, he'd gently pick it back up and put it back on him.  If I slowly wiggled away to give myself a bit of room or turned over, he'd maneuver himself back so that he was STUCK LIKE GLUE!

I'm going to admit, some days I feel so pulled in countless directions and have been completely frazzled and need my personal space, but for the most part I cherish his need for physical touch and affirmation because heaven knows, these days flash by like lightning!  At one point this afternoon, I somewhat began to get a little aggravated because I wanted to turn over and go to sleep in MY spot in MY comfortable position.  I wanted what I wanted. 

But then.....

In a gentle spirit...

God reached my soul with the reminder of how  He wants the same thing from me.

He wants me stuck like glue.  He wants me craving and needing to return to Him constantly through the day.  He wants me constantly looking for Him.  He wants me so close that I'm literally stuck to Him like a magnet or Velcro. 

Oh the things we can learn from a child....

All because of his sweetest little desire for Mom's touch and affirmation.

Break Away Movie Review

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by a different company than I typically review for and asked if I would be willing to view another faith based film and review it.  Since I've greatly appreciated similar opportunities from different firms, I was thrilled with the opportunity.  I consider it a great blessing!

Knowing that "Break Away" is from the same makers of "Faith Like Potatoes" (WORD Films) and that the setting of the movie is in South Africa, I jumped at that chance!  Africa (especially South Africa) have been deeply on our hearts and growing deeper by the day as we watch friends moving there this summer as full time missionaries and as we pray and seek God's guidance in listening to see what He is asking of us and where His path leads us. 



Official Break Away Movie Trailer  can be viewed here.  "Break Away" can be ordered from Amazon HERE when it releases on April 23.

 

From WORD Films:

Francois is a hard working husband and dad that gets laid off from his job. None of his efforts to get another job succeed and he is forced to use what he has, including an old bicycle, in order to provide for his family. With the help of his "black sheep" brother, a bicycle shop owner and a pro-cyclist, Francois makes some life-changing discoveries about his life, career and faith in God.

Although a fictional story, BREAK AWAY, was inspired by true events around the recession that left people without work. The message brings hope and offers practical and Biblical solutions in a very entertaining way.

MY take:

Break Away was filmed on a very limited budget of only about $55,000.  That is a drop in the bucket of a typical movie---ok----only a partial drop!  Keeping that in mind, you can't expect the greatest movie project on earth.  Operating with an extremely limited crew (7 professionals and 15 volunteers), you can't expect top notch acting.  With that said, the movie itself in terms of "quality" isn't the most top notch.  We aren't talking Academy Awards here! 

However, if you can look beyond that and keep your expectations in check---the movie has an INCREDIBLE message.  A message worth watching!  I'm going to be honest, I struggled with the first hour.  Had it not been a review, I probably would have turned it off....

But then....

Hang with me...

It changed so much for the better.  I found myself drawn in and cheering for the characters.  My heart was seeing the message that the production team felt so strongly about sharing.  In the beginning, I just found myself drawn to the cultural aspects of South Africa and wanting to learn more about the area. By the end, I felt the emotional and spiritual pull that was on the hearts of the production team. 

The movie tagline, "When it seems like you've lost everything, use what you've got and let God multiply it", really came to life.  I could feel myself in the characters shoes knowing first hand what it feels like to be faced with financial crisis after a job downsizing in a downward economy.  Knowing the pressure Francois felt in trying to find a way to provide for his family when he was constantly faced with the word "no".  We've felt the feelings of helplessness and have nothing but faith to cling to when you know you are facing the possibility of losing your home and the emotions of failure. 

Francois didn't give up.  Even when he hadn't fully submitted his situation to God, he still was purposeful and hard working.  However, the beauty of the movie and the message is what happened when he took a small opportunity and let it be used by God.  THAT is what changed the movie.  THAT is what allowed me to look past the "low" budget aspect and LOOK at the film with new eyes.  I greatly identified with Francois wife and admire how she supported her husband through very difficult times! Though the movie is a dramatic/fictional story, it still reminded my heart of the importance of being a woman of faith in hard times.  We, as wives, have the power to crush our husbands or we can go to battle FOR them! 

It's so very much a message worth listening to. 

The producers adopted the gospel account of the five loaves of bread and two fish as their mantra in producing the movie.  They had little to be used (in regards to finances, crew size), but knew that God could make much out of so little. 

We ALL need to surround ourselves with a message of hope! 

 




Friday, April 19, 2013

I Goofed....

I know that *we* are different.  I know that as a couple, we are looked at as strange and freakish because of choices we make to avoid many things others consider normal.

Tonight, I made a mistake. 

A HUGE mistake....

I really wanted to laugh tonight.  This has been a hard week for our nation.  This has been a hard week for us as individuals. 

I just wanted to unwind and share some joy. 

I quickly grabbed some movies at Redbox.  I didn't take the time to read reviews.  I didn't bother to listen to my gut.  It's only $1.20....so what does it matter if we have to turn it off? We turn off more than we watch. 

We popped in the movie and from the VERY first scene, the VERY first image....we knew there was no way it would be appropriate.

Yet, I attempted multiple times to just fast forward....thinking maybe it would get better. 

I KNEW better. 

No matter how many times we hit that forward arrow, the scene was greatly inappropriate or the "bomb" was being tossed around as if it was as common as "a, an, the". 

The movie was supposed to depict "normal" life . 

NO way was that normal life!

Yet, then I realized---it is NORMAL life.  This is what is normal in a great amount of households. In about a total of five minutes, I saw enough "reality" to explain so much of the problems in society.  This "normal" life is becoming more and more of a stark difference between what is normal and what kind of life Christ calls us to.  I don't mean religion. I mean relationship.  You can't live in both worlds.  You can't straddle the fence. 

The reality is that no matter which random spot in the movie I clicked it landed on a behavior that the world considers normal. 

The other sad reality is that many, many people....even many we love....will watch this movie or similar movies without batting an eye.  To be honest, they probably won't even be appalled by the language because they won't "hear" it.  (After shutting the movie off and doing what I should have done in the first place, I learned that the "bomb" was dropped over 100 times and about that many other "milder" words were used...even by the children).

Just recently, a 16 yr old girl we know mentioned that she had given up TV for Lent.  She said that when she finally went back to watching again, she was stunned at how many things her ears heard or images that her eyes actually REGISTERED.  The average person has become so accustomed to such things that immunity has been built up. 

Unfortunately,  it's causing damage.  It is destroying relationships.  It's destroying families.  "Immunity" is dangerous.  It's so easy for black to turn to gray and the lines to be blurred.  Actually, the lines aren't really blurred anymore.  We are witnessing such a degradation in society that we are finding that we willfully step over the line in defiance.....and yet then wonder why our homes, marriages, and society are falling apart. 

I'm disappointed in myself.  I never watch a movie without first verifying the content.  Maybe I was feeling a little defiant tonight.  Maybe I just wanted a break from "reality" and the heaviness of the week. 

I learned a lesson. 

NEVER let your guard down.  NEVER for a second forget that the enemy just needs a "small" window to enter.  NEVER think that vigilance in making appropriate media choices for your family AND yourself (no matter how old you are!) is "silly". 

I admit that I get frustrated at times that our not being "normal" limits our activities.  Sometimes, like tonight, we just want to laugh and enjoy entertainment.  I'll take those limitations.  Just a glimpse tonight of what many consider "normal" just drives me back even stronger to my values and convictions.  A big lesson I learned tonight, I don't want to be normal. 

I know many people don't share these same convictions.  They just see it as "harmless".  I've just proven more of how weird we are. 

That's ok. 

(The actual movie is irrelevant.  I could have easily chosen just about any other movie currently out and run into the same problem.)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Simple Memories

There is no doubt I'm sentimental and sappy.  I'm definitely feeling homesick more and more, especially with the thrill of knowing we are going home next month for a few days.  Gosh, it's been 18 months.  Unfortunately, this trip won't allow for us to see many people or spend nearly as much time as we would like since Kevin and I will be at a conference---but we do get to go home!  Thinking about home has really left me thinking about...

Childhood and simple memories.

Our society values things over people too often.  It values things over time. 

Many parents are working longer hours to buy more things.  You have parents that feel "less than" because they can't financially buy the newest and latest gadget for their children or the pricey brands of clothing. 

Yet, it REALLY isn't about things.  It REALLY isn't about more!

It seems as if the new status quo is about how "busy" we are.  It seems to be that our lives have to be overscheduled and booked solid with activities to be "in".  We somehow are judged by and judge others based on how busy our schedules are. 

We are so off base. 

The greatest memories of childhood I have ARE the simple ones.  The ones that didn't cost a penny or were extremely inexpensive.

When I'm looking back at memories or when I'm needing reassurance, my heart immediately remembers those simple things.

It's the same thing I want for my children.

Though countless memories often come to mind, a few that immediately pop in first:
  • watermelon and homemade icecream with extended family
  • sitting side by side and coloring with Teresa (that was a huge treat because she is a talented artist and so creative)
  • standing on the beat up,covered in paint and stains, stepstool and cooking/baking/crafting
  • koolaid popsicles or jello with whatever flavor happened to be on sale
  • playing in the creek and hoping for a good rainy season so the water would stay deep longer through the summer
  • catching lightning bugs (fireflies)
  • picking buttercups (daffodils)
  • church league softball practically every night during the summer
  • watching Sweet T and Granny crocheting and talking and wondering if I'd ever have that skill to make beautiful things from a hook and thread (and NO is that answer!!!)
  • countless hours sitting at the piano or listening to someone at the piano
  • camping, camping, and camping
  • orange pushups or grape nehi at the gas station on occasion and cherishing those days
  • all things gardening, but especially picking strawberries and eating far more than ever made it into the buckets
All in all, the greatest memories are the ones that were about slowing down and being together.  Those are the ones that matter most.

We may feel like our kids are missing out on something big in life when we don't buy them everything their hearts desire. We may feel odd man out when we encourage them to work and save up for things they want instead of just handing money over.  Going against the "norm" of the ever growing sense of entitlement may make us as parents looked at as "crazy".  Choosing to unpack schedules and getting off the hamster wheel of countless "enrichment" activities may not be what our friends are doing....

But...

Be different.
Choose less.
Give more time and less "stuff".
Focus more on the simple things and less of the "want more".

Time is what they truly will remember.  Thinking back, it's most likely what YOU remember.  You may remember a time that you really wanted something (the new toy, the new gadget)...if you finally got it....I bet you remember how that it really didn't make your life any more special.  What you REALLY remember making a difference in your life are the simple memories!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Sign-Demanding Faith

"We all need to possess a genuine faith.  But we, also, need a faith that POSSESSES us!"

After a long night and struggling to get going this morning, leaving us with only 15 minutes to get ready, I was tempted to stay home from church this morning.  However, I already had an expectation in my spirit that something important would reach my heart and I didn't want to miss it.  Oh goodness...

I'm thankful that I was there was a heart of expectation....

Because God met me there.

Today's message was DIRECT to my heart, in exact response to questions and struggles I've been having. 

I have genuine faith.  I have personal relationship with Christ.  I seek His will. 

But....

My faith conflicts with doubts WAY too often. 

Let me just be honest, MUCH conversation has been taken place in our home and with friends in recent days about whether we have the depth in our faith to TRULY trust God. 

As we seek to determine His will for the purpose He has for us, we've consistently come back to the question of, "Is God big enough"?

The answer to that is certainly He is. 

The real question is, "How big is our faith?"

Today, our pastor, truly reached in through God-inspired teaching and really made me think. 

He talked about four different obstacles to strong faith:
  1. Secondhand Faith
  2. Sign-Demanding Faith
  3. Self-Centered Faith
  4. Strong-Willed Faith
Though each of those have very valid points and areas of work needed in my own life, he really pegged me with the second one. 

Just in the last 24 hours, I have found myself guilty of having sign-demanding faith.  I have prayed multiple times through my life and especially in the last weeks, for God to give me a sign.  Give me a sign that "this" is the path you want us on.  Show me that if we walk in obedience to what we are feeling led to do that you are in control.  I've been asking for Him to show me signs that He will come through.  That He will provide.  "Hey God, just prove to me that I can trust you". 

Oh, how my heart  was convicted today with that mentality.  Yes, signs of God's ability to provide, answer prayers, etc.. are powerful and can truly boost our faith....they can't be the requirement.  Unfortunately, that is where I've found myself. 

I'll do this....., if you will first show me this........

It's dishonoring God.  It's saying I can't take you at your word unless you prove it.  It's a doubting Thomas mentality.  It's the needing to see the nail scarred hands instead of trusting Him at His word.

Our pastor gave a moving illustration of what I'm guilty of.  It goes something similar to this (tweaked a little to fit our family):  Kevin comes home from work today and tells our son that he loves him and wants to provide for him.  He tells him that he has opened a bank account in his name and that a deposit has been made for him.  The opening balance is already in place and it belongs to him.  Instead of taking Kevin at his word, our son starts in with disbelief and disregard for the integrity of his word.  Instead of being grateful, he places demands on Kevin to show him proof.  He MUST see the deposit slip, otherwise he doesn't believe it to be true.  It would be dishonoring and disrespectful for my son to make those requests of Kevin.  Obviously, he could show him the proof, but it is the attitude that is the issue. 

I'm VERY MUCH guilty of the same thing.  I want signs and proof.  I've been praying fervently for those to be revealed. 

Instead, I should be stepping out in bold faith saying I will follow in obedience FIRST.  I can't demand signs that He is in control as a requirement for my obedience. 

What a difference it is already making in my faith. 

I want the kind of faith that POSSESSES me.  The kind that oozes out of every pore and overflows my spirit.  The kind of faith that says, REGARDLESS of the situation or circumstances, I trust in you.  The kind that says, I will obey first.  I will step out of my comfort zone when YOU are leading me on a path that feels hard to take.  The kind that says, even when the world thinks I'm crazy, I'm confident in you.  The kind of faith that is confident in dire circumstances, not just in times of "ease".   The kind of faith that acts with confidence and boldness just because God is who He says He is. 

That is the faith I want to have!  That is the faith I'm seeking to grow! 

This Is Our Time DVD review (and give-a-way)!

I'm very excited to tell you about a movie that we watched late last night in preparation for review and give-a-way. 
 
This Is Our Time presented by Pure Flix

Releases on DVD and Blu-Ray on Tuesday, April 16. It will be available nationwide at Family Christian Stores and most Christian online and brick-and-mortar retail stores nationwide.
 
 
About This Is Our Time
The movie tells the interwoven stories of Luke (T.J. Dalrymple) and AlĂ© (Erin Bethea), who marry right after school and move to India to serve as missionaries for Embrace A Village, a ministry that cares for those afflicted with leprosy and their families; aspiring financier Catherine (Kate Cobb), who joins a prestigious financial institution determined to make an impact on corporate America; Ryder (Matthew Florida), who lands an impressive job in social media and can’t wait to use the powerful medium for a greater good; and Ethan (Shawn-Caulin Young,) seemingly the odd man out, who struggles to find his God-given-purpose and feels sidelined by God.
 
“What they all come to learn is that it never really was their time,” Arnold said. “It always was, always is, God’s time.”
 
MY take:
 
I loved it!  The message of the movie is impactful and definitely left me thinking about what it is that God is asking of me to do with HIS time.  As we are discussing often as individuals, a couple, and as a family what capacity God is asking us to serve Him, this movie really grabbed my attention as I watched the characters leave for mission work in India.  It also tackles tough questions such as:
  • What do I do with my life when "my" plans don't work out as I intended?
  • What do I do when I don't feel valued by those that should love me the most?
  • What do I do when faced with moral dilemmas in my career?
  • What happens to my faith in the face of tragedy? 
  • What do I do when I feel like God has abandoned me?
"This Is Our Time" really tackled these type deep issues and left me thinking about how many times in my own life I've asked these same or similar questions. 
 
All in all, I enjoyed it for it's entertainment value, but most especially for the spiritual messages.  I honestly look forward to watching it again.  For me, it wasn't a one time watch---just for reviewing purposes.  I also think I'd would make a great gift for upcoming graduates!
 
You can enter for a chance to win a copy just by commenting on this post (be sure to leave an email contact!).  One winner will be chosen at random.  Give-a-way will close at 8 PM CST on Sunday April 21st.  I hope you'll take the time to enter because this is a great movie to encourage and strengthen your faith, especially if you are going through a time of "searching" for purpose or feeling as if your life plans have fallen off track! 

I know that after viewing "This Is Our Time" that I am continuing to wonder what it is that God is asking of me and if that perhaps that THIS is the time to seize that calling!

 
 "Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in 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."
 





Monday, April 8, 2013

Spring Renewal

Spring finally arriving has put some pep in my step and heart.  We had the most amazing weekend in regards to laughter, time outside, breaking out the grill, visits with friends, and some EXTREME productivity.  It was good for the body, mind, and spirit. 

Spring is just beginning here....the grass is slowly turning green and we are seeing the first signs of it perhaps hanging around. 

Spring always creates such a stir in my heart and gives me the desire to clean, purge, organize.....

Just a fresh start with everything.

I'm reminded of how greatly it affects my moods in positive ways.

Spiritual I'm ready for that same renewal. 

Fresh start.

Renewed desires.

Refocusing on areas that matter most.

Something that has slipped down my list of priorities is the time I spend directly in His word.  Not just reading an incredible book or devotional.  Not just reading some quality Christian blogs.

I heard at Hearts at Home a great description of why it is important to actually study and read God's word directly and it has really convicted me. We can easily get caught up in reading or listening to what others says about scripture instead of reading it ourselves.  The Bible is God's love letter to each of us.  Written for us!  Now, think of a love letter being written by your spouse.  Instead of reading it directly from his hand, he gives it to someone else.  They read it to you. Does that have the same power?  Umm....don't think so!  We can still get the meaning and absorb the words, but it just doesn't have the same affect as reading it first hand!

I'm talking about my need for TRUE focus reading of scripture and STUDYING it.  Daily reading is necessary and important, but my DEEP time in the word has been slipping as life has been busy.  To be honest, it has been slipping because life is "good" right now. 

*That* is a dangerous place to be.  Carrying around the cocky attitude of "I don't need it" or letting down my guard of its importance is....well....plain and simply put...wrong.  No sugar coating.

That is an open invitation to let satan in to destroy or confuse.

I also get upset when someone brushes me off.  I get upset when I don't feel like I'm on my husband's top priority list.  I definitely know the difference when he kisses me in passing as a "greeting" or when he truly stops what he is doing and focuses on me!

I'm doing the same thing to God when I let other things take priority over my time with Him.  I'm doing the same thing to Him when I only half way go through the motions.  When I read just a few chapters to basically say I read it and to be done is WRONG.  When I treat it like a check-list instead of letting it MOVE and CHANGE me, I'm approaching it WRONG.

I'm guilty.

I'm asking God to renew my passion for His word.  I'm asking for a hunger that can't be filled.  I'm asking for wisdom and discernment.  I'm asking for understanding of His word.

I'm finding it. 

He's relighting a passion in me, just like spring does after a long, dreary winter.

I have spent the last several days reading with the right attitude, but I was wanting a more specific direction of study, either a topic a specific chapter/book.   I had been looking online for something "new" and then yesterday at church, Pastor Joe sparked my interest when he recommended looking at the "closing remarks" that Paul makes in each of his letters to the various churches he wrote.  He spoke about one specific one ( 2 Corinthians 13:11), but for the sake of time he just was able to write out the scripture reference to 12 others.  I've started looking at each of those. 

I'm completely enthralled, intrigued, and passionate about those "final instructions" in each letter.  I'm excited that a switch has been clicked back on and I can't get enough of His word.  Back to taking notes, looking up cross-references, pulling up Hebrew or Greek translations of words....just digging and learning.  I thought I'd read through them and maybe take a few notes and only spending a day or two on all of them combined.  Instead, I'm finding myself STILL on the first one!

It feels good.

Just like that boost from the sun shining this weekend, I'm feeling the boost of spending time with God and His word in the right attitude!  I'm praying He continues to fuel that passion and teaches me more and more.  Praying I can be a sponge and soak up everything He has! 



Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Today Matters

I've been thinking about the picture of my life lately, most specifically in recent days.  As we wait and pray for God to reveal His "big" purpose for our lives and send us in the direction of His choosing (specifically in regards to whether or not He is calling us to a foreign mission field), I've found myself off balance and edgy.  OK---let's called it what it is---moody and emotional.  Stressed over little things.  Hurt by words of others (or action/inactions) that I normally can let roll off without damaging my heart.  Wounds that have been healing have felt raw and open. Just unsettled and anxious. 

I don't think that is what He wants for me in this waiting game. 

Today still matters. 

Tomorrow is important, but TODAY matters.

No matter what that bigger call and purpose may be...

Right now.

Right here.

In this moment.

I still have a valid purpose. 

I can't lose the focus and importance of today.

I am called here and now to be His.  His daughter.  The wife of my husband that He chose.  The mother to three children He has given me.  I'm their mother.  I'm their teacher.  Those roles are CALLED by Him and I am to embrace those fully and attentively. They have deep meaning and far reaching implications for generations to come. I'm the caregiver of  "littles" and from the beginning I've felt as if that has been a calling from Him and have embraced it as such.  Plus countless others roles and purposes that He places in my daily path. 

It is enough. 

It is more than enough. 

If I'm being honest, some days it feels like too much. :)

Each and every current role causes me to have to look beyond myself, cling to Him, and walk in faith to shape precious others lives.  Giving of myself.  Searching my own heart to make sure that I'm in line with His will and following His directions. 

I can look forward with anticipation for the answer to a greater purpose, but I can NOT waste today.  I have to embrace it and give it all I have. For this IS my current calling. 

When all is said and done, I want to look back and say, " I did what I was called to do, and I did it well!"

Some days I most definitely can't say that is true.  Some days I find myself straying from what He has asked or required.  Some days I get caught up in the lies of satan that says what I do doesn't matter and that I'm invisible.  Some days I get caught up in the negativity of others.  Some days I get caught up in not receiving approval from some that so freely give it to others. 

Instead, God wants me to see my worth through Him. He wants me to see that where I am right now matters.  He wants me to answer the call of today and to do it with purpose, love, and to give ALL of myself to it. 

Today.



Monday, April 1, 2013

Two Roads

 
It seems as if there are themes that get stuck in my head. Everywhere I've turned the last couple of weeks and especially this last week, the famous line that begins one of Robert Frost's most famous poems has been either staring at me from every corner of social media, in books I've been reading, conversations I've heard, etc...

I've learned that when something keeps getting mentioned multiple times or is visibly in front of my face from various mediums....

It's time to pay attention.

Constantly in my head I've been going through my *two road* scenarios....

Where am I needing to take the road less traveled by? Where am I already taking the road less traveled, but need to recommit to?  If I'm at a crossroads, which path am I going to take?  The easy one or the one that may be harder or less accepted by the "world".  Which one is the one that leads me closer to God even if out of my comfort zone? Which road am I on that I know is the wrong path, but I'm still refusing to change direction?  At crossroads, who do I turn to in helping decide?  Am I deciding by my own desires or truly seeking His direction?  Am I receiving wise council or am I letting the world or circumstances provide faulty advice?

I'm finding myself in every one of this situations right now.  God is definitely at work in my heart causing me to evaluate many things. 

We, as a family, are at a huge crossroads as we seek God's will in finding out if He is calling us out of our comfort zones and into a different culture across the world or is He calling us into more of a support role? Is He calling our daughter to make that choice in about two years?

We, as a couple, have taken multiple wrong paths through our years of marriage and are finally reaping the incredible benefits of it "having made all the difference" by choosing to back up and walk down different paths.  We still find ourselves at times taking steps in the wrong directions and needing to be pulled back onto the path that we know works.  Being on the "right" path also leaves us quite unpopular at times.  There really are people out there that HATE to see a couple happy or a family thrive! LOTS!

We have taken some paths recently that people don't understand, but it has made all the difference in our family dynamics and spiritual growth. 

We've had to walk away from some unhealthy relationships. Trust me, some of this hurt and leave scars that can only be healed through the intervention of the Holy Spirit.

We've walked away from what the world says is normal in what we watch, read, listen to.  We've walked away from what the world says is normal in regards to how we spend our money.  We've walked away from what the world says is normal in how spend our times.  Our goals are different than what the world expects.

We parent differently.  We educate differently.  We place HIGH value on what we feed our hearts, soul, and mind.  We are definitely NOT on the popular path. 

While those things are good.....

There is more.

Are there areas that outside influence is taking over little by little?  Yes, God has been putting some of those on my heart lately.  Been revealing areas in my own heart that aren't in the condition He wants them.  He isn't pleased with some of those hidden areas and recesses that try to stay out of view.

Are there areas that I've become rigid and locked into that are the wrong?  Yes.  I find myself easily getting caught up in things that have emotionally hurt so much lately.  I know I need to react in ways that are of the Spirit and not of flesh, but unfortunately flesh wins too often.  I get caught on the wrong path of listening to lies that satan repeats over and over.  I get too caught up in approval.  At times, my own heart is beginning to get jaded and callous because it's been stepped on so much.  I get too caught up in the words of condemnation and have trouble discerning between condemnation and conviction.  God is calling me to walk on a different path. Yet, how many times do my feet stay planted firmly on the wrong one because I don't want to give up my will.  Or how many times do I give Him control to only put my hand back out five seconds later to take it back?

Are there areas that I am on the right path, but I've lost my focus or feel discouraged.  Oh yes, a million times over.  He's reminding me that doing the right thing is also about the attitude with which I do it. 

It's as if God is pulling at the strings of my heart, rubbing the dazed looked from my eyes, and opening my physical ears and the ears of my heart.  He's changing my focus and drawing me back to Him.  The question is, which path will I take?  Will I take the easy one or the hard one?  Will I take the popular or the unpopular?  Will I make the choices that draw me to Him or ones that put stumbling blocks in the way?  Will I stay on the right path even when it feels lonely or painful?

I know the answers I hope to be able to give.  Yet, I know that some paths I'm tripping over rocks in the way and need to change direction or I need to be better equipped.  Some paths I need to be running in the opposite direction of.  Some paths I need to be reaching out to others along the way asking for assistance.

Looking inward and evaluating.  Deciding which paths need a new roadmap!




Janet's Planet Microgravity DVD Review & Giveaway

Microgravity

Websitehttp://www.janetsplanet.com
Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/pages/Janets-Planet/59026154727
Twitterhttps://twitter.com/jpjanetsplanet

From Janet Ivey
“For the past decade, science education has been my passion and America’s children have been my inspiration.  It is incredible to see how excited children can become about the world around them when the information is presented in an accessible and fun way.  That is the mission of Janet’s Planet, and I look forward to continuing to support better science education in the years to come.”  

Review:

I truly enjoy reading books, listening to new music, and watching movies that uphold our family values and then reviewing and sometimes giving away a copy.  I also get REALLY excited when the opportunity is available to review an educational or homeschool product that lines up with our current grade levels and interests.

Since I have a couple of children that have an insatiable desire to learn all things science, I was excited to have the opportunity to review "Janet's Planet: Microgravity." My kids have seen a few of these programs in the past, but not this one.

Simply put:  everyone found something engaging, learned new facts, and it held their interest!  That's a pretty powerful statement since our school age children range from 1st through 10th grade!  In order to explain microgravity, Janet first spent a good portion of time explaining GRAVITY.  It didn't matter if you didn't quite catch the concept the first time, she used multiple examples and review tactics.  Because of this, my youngest child was easily able to explain more things than I was expecting.  I would gear this DVD more to upper elementary instead of 1st grade, but he gleaned many things from it.  I also like how she explained the different between weight and mass.  She asked great questions as well.  Such as, what would happen if gravity was turned "off " on earth? 

I'm glad we took the time to watch and engage in a learning activity together.  I see us pulling up more of her videos for enrichment in the future!

One reader will be chosen at random to receive a copy of Janet's Planet: Microgravity.  To enter:  Just leave a comment telling me what your child's favorite science topic is right now. I'm interested to read what other families are learning about and what excites your children!  Be sure to leave an email address for contact.  Giveaway will end on 4/10/13 at 8 PM CST. 




"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in 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."