I am not an optimistic person by nature. I am more of a ‘the glass is half empty and is most likely going to stay that way’ type of person. This is probably part of the reason this verse has resonated so much with me. I want to be the type of person who is constantly blessing God and thanking Him for all the blessings in my life. And there are so many blessings. But they are so hard for me to see at times, and I become overwhelmed with LIFE and when I open my mouth, it isn’t praises that come out. It’s complaints, it’s whining, it’s why oh why aren’t things easier?? And let’s just be honest, it isn’t a good model for the children, my husband, or even myself. After all, if we let ourselves dwell on the negative, what are we going to think about? If we take our focus off of God and all that He has blessed us with, we don’t see those blessings. We just see the negative in life. And my friends, there is a whole heap of negative. We see it everywhere. In the news, online, in magazines, EVERYWHERE there is Satan trying to bring us down. Trying to distance us from all the good in life. All the good that God has placed there. The laughter of a child, the sun shining through the trees, the colors of autumn, the smell of freshly cut grass. All of it, goes away as soon as you take your eyes off of it.
My husband is a wonderful reminder to me of all the good God has given us. Anytime I start to feel this way, he will so often, even without me sometimes saying anything, mention something good that God has blessed us with. And with that reminder, I am prompted to bring my focus back to God. It isn’t always a smooth process, honestly, it’s usually with me kicking and screaming. But I’m trying. I’m trying to let go and let God. I have heard this phrase so many times in my life. And I’m going to be honest, I never truly understood it. If you think about it, what does it actually mean? It means total and complete surrender. And as a child, when I first accepted Jesus as my Savior, I didn’t understand surrender. I still don’t completely get it, but I feel like as a thirty-something year old, I am beginning to understand. Even just a teeny tiny bit. Because after all, it’s never too late. It’s never too late to accept God’s gift to us. It’s never too late to change your life path. Even though it won’t be easy, it’s never too late to change your focus and behavior. You won’t get it right the first or second, or even the thirtieth time! But, we need to pick ourselves back up, recommit to following our God, and step out in faith. I am not an optimistic person, but taking this step of faith, is for me, a step towards optimism itself. If I can believe that God sent His only Son to die on the cross to forgive my stupid, repetitive sins, then I guess I can count myself as an optimistic pessimist who is learning to bless our God at all times, and to continually, no matter how difficult life may be, praise Him with my words and actions.
The other night when I was putting G and Baby Z to bed, I started praying. Now this is not an unusual occurrence for me. I have admitted before that my “serious” prayer time is usually at night. This is just how it works out for this season of our lives. I have great dreams of waking before the children and getting in some morning prayer time, but it’s just not our reality.
Anyways, as I was sitting there, actually spending some real, quality time with God, I heard Him speak. Now, we all experience God in our own ways and in different manners. Sometimes it is just a feeling, or an emotion, but other times, it’s actual words. I’m going to admit something else here that is a bit painful. It’s been a while since I have heard Him actually speak. It’s not because He hasn’t been talking, I’m afraid I just haven’t been listening closely enough. I have started reading my Bible again on a fairly regular basis. I try to read a quick chapter at night, again, after the kids are in bed and, mostly, asleep. Remember how I said I have outgrown my bonsai faith? Well, never has this been more evident to me than in the past week. I have been hearing His voice for the past couple of nights and after such a long period of not actually hearing, it has been like water to my parched soul. It has been such a wonderful thing. I missed hearing His voice. I missed hearing what He has to say to me. And boy, has He been talking now that I am actually listening!
So as I sat there, I was hit with this passage.
“And behold, a voice from heaven said,
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
Now the significance of this passage for me was the fact that one word was changed. Just one word changed the whole, entire meaning for me. It no longer became just that passage in the Bible where God revealed Himself to His Son and told EVERYONE that He was pleased with His Son. Oh no, it became much more. It became about me. Me, personally. Instead of “This is my beloved Son” it became, “This is my beloved Child”. And God was talking about me. I am His beloved child. I may stumble, I may fall, over and over and over again, but I am still His beloved child in whom He is pleased.
When we search for God, we always, inevitably find Him. He always makes Himself known to us. If we search diligently, He will not fail us. For we are His beloved children. All of us. We are not perfect like Jesus, but God loves us just the same. God loves me as He loves His Son, because I am His child. Just as Jesus is His child, so am I and everyone in this world. We are all children of God and He loves EACH and EVERY single one of us. Such a simple concept, but so completely revolutionizing. Hold onto that knowledge, hold onto the fact that when we are doing God’s will, He is pleased with us, just as He was pleased with Jesus. He loves us, without fail and without wavering. Forever and ever.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
2 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them.
3And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
How are your Christmas preparations coming along? Tree set up? Decorations placed around the house? Presents wrapped? Yeah, not here. We don’t have our tree yet. There aren’t many decorations, besides the occasional cut-out snowflake, and I haven’t even started wrapping. This is unusual for us. We usually have the tree up and decorated a good two weeks or so before Christmas. The house usually has some decorations placed out and since I love wrapping presents, I have usually at least started. But not this year. This year has been different. It hasn’t been intentional, but for one reason and then another, things have been put off until later.
I have to admit, the kids are kind of freaking out…ok, it’s mostly A. But that’s really only because she likes to know when things are going to be done. She has been this way since she was little. If we told her one thing, and then plans changed, OH BOY, meltdowns ensued. But now that we are down to the wire, she is really anxious about when things are going to be done. On one hand it’s fine, I’m calling it a life lesson. We are trying to help her see that life doesn’t always go the way we want it to. It doesn’t even always go the way we planned! But everything will work out in the end. Because one way or another, Christmas will get here. No matter what we do, or don’t do, Christmas will still come.
And I think maybe that is the whole point. No matter what we do, no matter what life throws at us, Jesus still comes. He is still born. He still saves us from eternal damnation. And we still get to live with Him and God in Heaven forever. And what an incredibly powerful message. No matter where we are in life, Jesus still comes. He still meets us wherever we are. And He still, always and forever, calls us home to Him.
Merry Christmas everyone!
May your Christmas be filled with the love and light of Jesus Christ, Our Savior!
6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,
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!! 🙂
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.
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?
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.
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?
Lately I’ve been trying to get away from buying things at the store that I know I can make myself. First of all, let me just be clear, I am all for convenience when it is “necessary”. Of course, this looks different to everyone, but we are at a season in life that is very busy. We have six children under 11 and let’s just be honest, there are only so many hours in a day. That means we have to use what we have wisely.
When I was pregnant with baby Z, convenience (and having a husband who is willing to do whatever needs doing!) was the only way I made it through the day sometimes. It also helps to have a 10 year old who can cook!! I don’t like to waste items or money that don’t need to be wasted. That being said, sometimes it’s nice to use some paper plates and not have to do the dishes at the end of the day.
As my energy has returned, I have begun cutting back on conveniences. And as always, Pinterest is a WONDERFUL place for inspiration. I could easily spend hours and hours going through all of the fantastic ideas I find on there. But then, when would I find time to actually do some of those projects??
Well, this past week I actually did find some time to whip up some fabric “paper” towels. It definitely helped that we took the week off of school as well. It was a nice break in our routine, but I’m not sure we will be continuing it. I have a whole different post that will be coming on my thoughts about how it worked for us. I know it works well for some people who are doing year-round schooling to have week-long breaks in their year, but honestly, I think it was too long for us.
Anyways, back to the fabric “paper” towels. All I did was take some old fabric sheets we had and I figured out roughly what size I wanted the towels to be. (They are different sizes since I just eyeballed my towels…I am really bad about following patterns when it comes to things like this! I also don’t pin if I don’t have to….ever….ssshhhhh, it’s our little secret!) I cut out two pieces of the sheet and then simply zigzagged around the edges with the wrong sides together. Tah-dah! Done! 🙂 Sweet, simple, and effective. I ended up with ten towels and they have already seen quite a bit of use around the kitchen. I also don’t mind if these end up getting thrown away eventually because a) I can make more and b) they are already a re-purposed item.
All this to say, I’m still buying paper towels! 🙂 No seriously, I use them as wipes for G and baby Z. But, I only spend about $9 once a month to buy them so I don’t feel too bad. I have used cloth wipes and diapers in the past. I LOVE cloth diapers and wipes, but again, sometimes convenience allows us to get through the day with our sanity intact! I might get back to them someday…but again, I have trouble paying for things I can make myself. And all of our old cloth diapers are worn out. They lasted through four children very solidly but have seen better days at this point. So I would have to invest some time making them, which I would gladly do, if I could find a couple more hours in a day…
She seeks wool and flax, And willingly works with her hands.
What have you been working on? Any exciting (or simply practical!) projects in the works?
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.
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.
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!
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?