The Essence of Life

I think that a lot of people can agree, that as a society, we have begun a downward spiral. Without even touching on the ridiculousness of today’s he/she/it debacle, I think the majority of people are just shaking their heads in bewilderment. When did we lose sight of God’s will in our country? There are probably a lot of factors that led to this, but I think one of the biggest happened when we stopped viewing children as blessings. The moment we made it OK to kill our unborn children, we pretty much said everything else is permissible. I’m sure there are people who will disagree with me. People who will say that is over-reaching a bit. Well, I disagree, and so does the Bible.

Psalm 139:13-16

13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are

wonderful, I know that full well.   15 My frame was not hidden from you when

I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the

earth.   16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were

written in your book before one of them came to be.

God formed us each, individually inside of our mothers’ wombs. He wrote out a plan for each and every one of us. We all have a purpose. God has a plan for all of us. Can you imagine the pain it causes Him when a child’s plan is ripped out of His book because of abortion? Can you imagine the tears He cries when one of His blessings is rejected?

Baby
Copyright RosesatDawn 2018

I know how much I hurt when thinking about abortion, I can only imagine the pain of our Creator when one of His creations is destroyed.

James 1:17

17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the

Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

A child, no matter how conceived, is a gift from God. A child, no matter what his or her needs may be, is a good and perfect gift from our Father in Heaven. When did we make receiving a gift from God into something that can be thrown away? Something that can be destroyed simply because he or she doesn’t fit into our life plan?   How incredibly selfish we have become. I feel as though this has contributed to the self-centeredness that permeates our society today. No wonder so many have a self-entitled attitude. It is what I want, when I want, no matter what.

But life is so much more than that. Life is so much more than ourselves. God calls us to love one another as we love ourselves. He calls us to love Him above all. And if we love Him above all, how could we reject a gift from Him?

Matthew 22:37-39

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

Life is about more than what we can get out of it. It is about more than ourselves. We are called to put our humanly wants and desires to the side and follow His leading. Ultimately, we will all be judged for what we did, or what we failed to do.

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

13 Now all has been heard;     

here is the conclusion of the matter:

Fear God and keep his commandments,     

for this is the duty of all mankind.

14 For God will bring every deed into judgment,     

including every hidden thing,     

whether it is good or evil

But also remember that our God is a loving and forgiving God. If we seek to love Him with everything we have in us, if we seek to give Him our all, when we stumble and fall, He will forgive. He always does.

John 3:16

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son,

That whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

If He sent His one, and only Son to us, to forgive us, to save us, to love us, then what right do have to reject His gifts? When a child is thrown to the side, it is like throwing Jesus to the side. We are saying God’s gifts, ALL of them, don’t matter to us. We reject them. And in rejecting them, we condemn ourselves to being cut off from our loving, forgiving Father, who like an earthly father, only wants what is best for His children. All His children. He created His children, He loves His children, and His heart bleeds for His children.

I shudder at the “women’s movement”. Their absurdity makes me sick to my stomach. Their violence disgusts me. Their hate saddens me. Anyone who truly has “women’s rights” as their main objective, would seek to protect the weakest of us. And the weakest, the most vulnerable, are the unborn. The beautiful, unborn babies who cannot speak for themselves. Think of all the women murdered because someone decided they didn’t want them. Think of all the innocent boys who will not have the chance to become men. All those lives thrown away like trash. All the blessings they could have become. All the change they could have made. All just rejected like garbage. Anyone who truly wants “equality” would fight against abortion.

Matthew 18:10

10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell

you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.

There are some bright spots. There are some people out there who are fighting for these precious little gifts from heaven. People like Judie Brown, from American Life League, who fights daily for them. People, just like you and me, who have made a choice. A choice to protect those weaker than themselves. A choice to stand for what is right in the eyes of God, not what is right in the eyes of society. Society’s values change. No one can ever seem to constantly agree on what is right or wrong. If it is all fluid, then what is the point? If values can change, then are they actually values at all? We know God is never changing. What is right and wrong in His eyes is always constant. He is our rock to cling to in turbulent times. May we ever seek His will. No matter what society says.

Matthew 18:1-5

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them.

3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

Contentment

It’s the beginning of the fourth week of a brand new year. How are your resolutions looking? Are you still giving them a go or have you already dropped them? To be honest, I didn’t make all that many resolutions beyond the usual eat healthier and exercise more. But really, I only “made” resolutions because I was already thinking about it. Baby Z is nine months old and I’m feeling ready, mentally and physically, to get back to a better way of eating and exercising. So honestly, I’m not sure I can even call them resolutions! But that’s alright, because I have been contemplating something different for this year. Something that again, has been on my mind for a little while now.

Copyright RosesatDawn 2018

I have noticed, as I have been reading other people’s blogs and whatnot, that a lot of people pick a word for the year. A word that they contemplate and think about and generally use as a focus for how they want to shape their year. I never really understood the concept and I honestly felt a little overwhelmed by the idea. How am I supposed to pick out one word to concentrate on for a whole, entire year? I mean, how can I find just one word to sum up a year? Well, it just so happens, I found one. A word that has been on my mind for several months now. A word that I am going to mull over and pray over and try to apply to my life in general. And that word, is contentment.

Jeremiah 29:11

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,

“plans to prosper you and not to harm you,

plans to give you hope and a future.

Contentment has always been a struggle for me. I think, to a certain extent, it is hard for everyone. Why else would there be so many wars throughout history? We always want what we don’t have. And then when we have, it is hard to not want the next thing. It is part of human nature. But we are called to be content with what God has given us. To be content with what He has blessed us with. And sometimes, it is so hard. Especially when things aren’t going your way. Especially when you are struggling. It is so easy to look at other people and their things and not be content. To wonder why they have and you are struggling.

Copyright RosesatDawn 2018

This has not been a great year for us. Yes, I am aware it has only just started, but oh boy, has it been a heck of a year already. And I am trying to be content. I am trying to focus on all the blessings we do have. And there are many. I know this, but when times get tough, sometimes it is hard to see beyond the here and now. So I keep reminding myself that God has plans for us. Plans for our family that are specifically for us and for our future. Plans that are not to harm us. This is just a season. It will pass and in time, we will look back and see how far God has brought us. How far we have come and how far we have to go. God wants what is best for us. So we must try and find contentment in the bad. It is so easy to be content when things are going well. When there is extra money in the bank account, when the children are behaving, when everything is running smoothly. It is easy then to be content. But it is when things are not going your way, when the deck and the entire world seem stacked against you that true contentment is tested.

Phillipians 4:11-13

11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

So whatever our circumstances, I am focusing on being content. Content with where we are financially, content with this season in our lives, content with enough being enough. God will provide us with exactly what we need, when we need. All that is required of us is to be faithful and seek our God with all of our hearts, minds, and souls. He will take care of the rest.

Psalm 34:10

10 The lions may grow weak and hungry,

but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

The big “S”

tinymossflowers

If you are a homeschooler, have ever considered homeschooling, have ever known anyone who homeschooled, or have ever in any way ever heard the word homeschooling, then you probably have heard the debate about socialization.

First, a little background about myself. I am a product of homeschooling. I was homeschooled from second grade all the way up until eighth grade. My parents then made the decision to send me to high school. Also, I am an introvert. A BIG time introvert. I don’t like going out, and anytime we do get out of the house, I can’t wait to get back home. But I did just fine in high school. I made friends. I even still keep in touch with one of those friends (ok, so I’m really bad at keeping up at correspondence, but we do see each other every once in a while!). And I can function in the REAL WORLD!! 🙂

trillium

Anyways, back to my point…I have to admit I was worried. Worried that our kids would have difficulty socializing. I’m not sure why I was worried, but I’m sure all the media hype I heard growing up and then as an adult didn’t help. I guess maybe it is just one of those things all parents worry about from time to time. Will my kids be able to do x, y, and z? Will they be competent members of society and not have to rely on us to function for the rest of their lives? Silly worries, I know. Kids grow up, they mature, they get out of the house and they do just fine!

After all, how many “famous” people were homeschooled and we don’t even really think about? Yes, I know it was common during a certain time period, but why have our concerns changed? Why was it so much more ‘acceptable’ then but not now? Just because we now have a public school system doesn’t mean our children can’t and shouldn’t be homeschooled. Again, just because times have changed, that doesn’t make us any less competent to school our children.

hikingpath

A while back, the kids and I were in the grocery store doing our shopping. I was still pregnant with baby Z and it was a Wednesday. A random day in the middle of the week where if the kids were in traditional school, I would have been there with just the two little boys. But I wasn’t. I was there with all five of them. All five of our “un-socialized”, homeschooled, children. We get lots of compliments when in the store about how well behaved they are. And those compliments make me feel like we are doing something right. Our kids know how they are expected to behave in public, and they do, for the most part. However, when someone says hello to them, they are a little hesitant to respond. Part of this is due to shyness. Part of this is due to our “don’t talk to strangers!” teaching. Both of these reasons are fine! So back to me and the five un-socialized, homeschooled kids in the grocery store. We were walking down one of the aisles and there was an older woman doing her shopping. As I was going about picking up whatever it was I needed, A noticed the older woman drop her paper towels. And without me noticing, or realizing what had happened, she walked over, picked them up, and helped the woman place them in her cart. And my heart soared. I was ridiculously proud of her (as all parents are when we catch our children doing something good and right without prompting). But more than that, I realized that I shouldn’t be worried about whether or not our kids are receiving enough socialization. Who is really in charge of measuring that anyways? How do we know how much they really need? Not to mention, you do realize we have six kids? At home? All day long? Do you even realize how much “socializing” goes on here on a daily basis without us even really thinking about it?

heartofstone

When my husband and I first got together, we already knew we were going to homeschool. It was one of those things that didn’t need to be discussed. But I admit, I did have some preconceived notions that have not really panned out the way I thought they were going to. One of those has been socialization. I was really hoping to find and participate in a homeschool group of some kind. I thought about how nice it would be for the kids to have some friends outside of each other. But as time has gone on and there are still no homeschool groups in a reasonable distance to be found, I have come to realize that God is not calling for our kids to be out and about. He has placed us where we are, with the resources available (or not!) to us for a reason. I really feel that He wants our children to learn to be friends with each other. He wants them to rely on each other for companionship. After all, how many times have we told them, “At the end of the day, all you really have is your family. Family is what matters.”

Now I’m not going to pretend to understand God’s ways…(Isaiah 55:8)…ahahhahaha……ahem. But, I choose to believe there is a reason. He wants our children to rely on each other for a reason that is above my understanding. He provides for everything and He has plans for each of us. They are not always what we think they should be. But they are always for our betterment (Jeremiah 29:11). So I’m going to choose to stop worrying about whether or not our children can say hi to the nice, older woman at the grocery store. I’m going to stop worrying that they “have no friends” outside of each other. Because God has a plan. And His plan is WAY better than anything we could ever imagine.

Proverbs 22:6

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

 

P.S. I received this book as a young girl, and now A is enjoying it as well. It is a wonderful story of a young woman who, along with her family, moves away from her home to a new area of the country to help establish a new church. She ends up learning to do without her “friends” and rely on her family for fellowship and companionship. As the story unfolds, we find out that God had a very specific reason for having this happen to her. It is a wonderful example of what I am trying to convey. God has a reason for everything that happens, and His plans for our lives are so much better than our own. (Yes, this is an affiliate link, but the book review is completely my own and I am in no way receiving anything for writing it. I simply loved this book as a young girl and still find it to be relevant today!)

What do you worry about the most with your kids and about life in general?  How do you deal with those worries?

Be Still

“Be still and know that I am God.”

This verse has become my personal mantra. Well, technically it is only part of the verse, but for me, it is the most relevant. The whole verse reads,

Be still, and know that I am God:

I will be exalted among the heathen,

I will be exalted in the earth.

Psalm 46:10

But with everything going on in our crazy world, I find the first part to be the most applicable for me. I oftentimes find myself breaking it down farther into two separate pieces. The first part is “Be still…” Be still…seriously, how hard has this become for us in today’s world? There are constant distractions. Between social media, instant streaming of any movie or tv show you want, music, and just overall noise, our brains become quickly overloaded and saturated with stimuli. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy being able to hop on the internet and look up information about anything I want. It is especially helpful when the children ask a question that I don’t know how to answer! But on the other hand, I have such a hard time just sitting still for a minute with nothing to distract me. If I find myself with a minute during the day to just sit, I often will browse Pinterest. Again, not a bad thing in and of itself, but it is so easy to kill a couple minutes to a couple of hours just browsing. And the problem is, that my mind is not at rest. Even though I am sitting still, I am not still. My brain is still soaking in all the pictures, reading the blurbs, and contemplating which projects I want to try.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I admire the moms who get up before their families and have quiet time with their Bibles and God in the morning. This just isn’t feasible for me. Honestly, my quiet time with God is at night when I’m putting G to bed while my husband puts the older ones to sleep. And maybe it isn’t the “best” time, but it is what works for me right now. During this time, I really try and focus on being still with differing amounts of success. Sometimes I just sit quietly in the dark with my eyes closed and listen to what I feel God is putting on my heart. Other times, I pour out whatever is troubling me to God. Everything comes out in a rush and when that happens, I will hear Him telling me to be still. Because God wants peace for us. He doesn’t want us to be troubled, or constantly on the go. It isn’t healthy for our minds or our bodies to never have time to just Be Still.

The second part that I break this verse into is “and know that I am God:”. Oh boy, what a doozy for me. I have such a hard time sometimes handing my fears, worries, and troubles over to God. I have such a hard time letting Him lead. This is a constant struggle for me. I am trying. I am constantly praying about it. And He is constantly challenging me!

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If we, as a society and as individuals, could just BE STILL for a minute. Just stop, and KNOW that God is God, what kind of wonders could He work in us? If we could just stop, and take some time out of our hectic days and stop our brains from being in constant overload, what kind of peace might we find?

And once we have found that peace, might we not then praise Him for helping us to reach that attainable peace He wants for all of us?

Do Not Fear

rockWhy do we find it so hard to let go of control? When we are young, we plan out what our lives are going to be like when we get older. Sometimes these plans come true, sometimes they don’t. When I was little, I wanted to be a ballerina dancer, artist, chef, and preschool teacher. Funnily enough, I am all of these things…I just don’t get paid for them in cash! 🙂

I do find it hard to let go of control, though. (Just ask my husband!) I am trying, and I am praying, and I hope, against hope, that I am learning. There is just something about not being in control that fills so many of us with fear. What if it doesn’t work out? What if I let go and something bad happens? Well, what if I don’t let go and something bad happens anyways?

If we don’t relinquish control of where and what we think should be happening in our lives, we miss out on so much. We miss out on opportunities God is trying to lead us towards. If we never let go, He can never take over. And if He never takes over, is it a life fully lived?

Isaiah 41:13

 For I am the Lord your God  

who takes hold of your right hand

and says to you, Do not fear;

I will help you.

If God says “Do not fear; I will help you,” then what are we so afraid of? Look towards God’s promises and remember that He will never leave us, nor forsake us. (Deuteronomy 31:6) If God is with us, who then can stand against us? (Romans 8:31)

When life leaves us feeling so overwhelmed with all the negativity coming our way, hold tight to the Word of God. Even though we may falter, He will always be there, as our loving Father, to pick us back up, put us on our feet, and walk beside us all the way. So don’t be afraid to let go. Don’t be afraid to let God take the wheel because that is exactly what we need to set us back on the path that ultimately brings us right to Him.

rockocean

Plant something and watch it grow

Every year I plant something. Maybe it’s just flowers, maybe it’s lettuce, sometimes I get ambitious and plant potatoes, lettuce, turnips, etc. I just like the feeling of digging in the dirt and making something grow. I even weed on occasion!

This year however, we were in charge of planting the ‘big’ garden. You see, my husband’s father passed away last year on this day from leukemia. The garden had always been his passion and this year we did our best to make him proud. It was a group effort and we got it done! My husband was in charge of tilling, which he did, by hand, with a shovel. He hand-turned the entire garden. And can I just say, we will be doing it this way from now on. It is a LOT of work, but it was worth it. The dirt is nice and loose, rich, and well-turned.

The kids, my sister-in-law, and I then went through and planted. We did turnips, lettuce, carrots, peas, zucchini, summer squash, and potatoes. We put A in charge of the potatoes. We made the lines of hills, she made the holes, and the other kids came through and put the potatoes in. The way she took charge made my heart happy and heavy at the same time. You see, this is an activity the kids have done with their Grampa every year since A was old enough to walk. And this was the first year they planted without him.

After the potatoes were planted, I waited with baited breath for them to come up. I knew how much this meant to A. I hoped, and I prayed that they would poke through the dirt. We waited, and waited. And then finally, finally they came up. I was so happy for the kids and for A in particular. She had decided how deep to make the holes. She told the other kids were to put them and how to cover them up. She learned all this from her Grampa over the years. This was her project in honor of him. I hope she feels half the amount of pride in herself that I do in her.

potato

So whether or not we harvest anything else from our garden this year, we will definitely be harvesting potatoes. And we will be thanking Grandpa for taking the time to teach our children how to provide for themselves through the very simple act of planting potatoes.

Ecclesiates 3:1-2

There is a time for everything,

And a season for every activity under the heavens:

A time to be born and a time to die,

A time to plant and a time to uproot.

Practice what you preach

mountainsSo remember how the other day I posted about that verse in Matthew that I love so much? Yeah, you know that one that tells us that God will provide for our every need? The one that says don’t worry about what you will eat, drink, or wear? Well, isn’t it just so timely when something you say comes back and applies so directly to your own life?

I was reminded of how I am constantly being called to apply this to my own life. You see, our cars have been having some…issues. As a homeschooling mom, I don’t drive every day. I usually only drive a couple of times a week; to the grocery store, to run errands, and to church. That’s pretty much it. So my car doesn’t really get a whole lot of use. My husband drives his car every day of the week to get to work, drive to wherever he needs to go during the day for work, and home.

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A couple of weeks ago, on our way to pay a visit to my brother and his wife, my car started smoking. As in, the oil line just died and needs to be replaced ASAP, type smoking. It wasn’t good. It also wasn’t the end of the world, but long story short, we ended up needing to get it towed. Then we had to have it fixed. Ugh. Then, a couple of days later, my husband’s car had issues. Then it needed to be fixed. Double Ugh. Then last week his car had more issues. Long story short-ish, his car needs to go to the shop, again. There is also possibly (please no) something wrong with my car…again.

 

So today I was driving home, with a car full of groceries and children, and I started worrying. Worrying about whether or not we were going to make it home. Worrying about what the heck was wrong with the car and how much is it going to cost this time? Worrying about how the persnicketies (insert some not so nice words here) we were going to pay for it. And I was reminded of Matthew 6:26-29 and I tried desperately to give it to God. To not worry about how we were going to pay for it, because let’s face it, besides getting our children home in one piece, that was the next biggest thing I was worrying about. And that is the LAST thing I should have been worrying about. Because every, single, time, something like this happens to us and I feel like we are never going to be able to make it work…it does work. God provides. He takes care of us. And I am reminded, again, and again, and again, that I don’t have to worry. God will take care of us and provide for us just like He promises.

You would think I would know this by now. I mean, how many times have things like this happened to us and we have been fine? Well, honestly, too many to count! So you would think I would stop worrying so much, but I have found this is not the case. God uses these incidents to teach us, over and over and however many times over we need it, that He is here. He loves us. He provides for us. He wants us to rely on Him. He calls us to Him constantly. It is our choice to respond to Him or not. That is the only thing in this life that we can control. We can control whether or not we answer God’s call.

yellowflower

So whether it is in small things, or big things, we must remember to trust God. Trust that He is there, He loves us, and He will always provide for our needs, even when we have absolutely no idea how. So I am going to trust in God. I am choosing to believe that He will provide for whatever we end up needing. (and quietly hoping it won’t cost too much!) 🙂

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart

and lean not on your own understanding;

in all your ways submit to him,

and he will make your paths straight.

 

What causes you to worry the most? How does God show you He is always there?