Protected

On Tuesday the kids got home from school and hurried to jump into the pool. This happens every afternoon and I think it is great. Helps them burn off the energy that has been contained in a desk all day. The kids had been in for less that a minute, when movement caught my husbands eye. He quickly got the kids out of the pool because a copperhead snake was extremely close to our 8 year old! He killed the snake by cutting its head right off and then threw it in the trash outside. We were all shaken up and to play the “what if” game in my head was not going to happen. I sincerely hope your Tuesday was much calmer.

IMG_9244This whole event got me to thinking. I stayed teary eyed over it the next morning. Made putting on my eye makeup pretty difficult and I finally gave up. You see, my husband is an incredible protector of our family. Not only does he look out for the physical things that could harm us, he pays careful attention to the spiritual things too. You will find him up early in the morning reading scripture and praying for our family. He speaks words of truth to us all because he has spent time in God’s word and therefore knows truth. He loves our kids well and invests time with each one. He takes me out on dates and we laugh a lot. We have learned so much in the past almost 19 years of marriage and it has not always been easy. When you bring pride and selfishness in like I did, well circumstances and conviction come to work that out. Not easy.

So today I encourage you to always be mindful of the “snakes” of this world that slitter around and want to harm your family. Take time to eat together often and listen to each other. Encourage each other and let each one know they matter. Give your kids, especially the older ones, plenty of hugs. Do thoughtful things that do not have strings attached. Say “just because” more often as the reason not based on performance. Be a place of help and someone they can trust when the world seems against them. And when the snakes come close, do not let them linger. Deal with the words or actions quickly, so they do not bite and spread poison to hearts. If the bite has already happened, take healing steps today to remove the poison. I am convinced that the longer it stays, the more life it removes. Need help doing that? Go straight to your Bible and spend time praying. Ask God to help forgive and heal. Repent and ask God to give you courage, if you have been the cause of the poison, to ask someone for forgiveness. I do not know what the outcome will be, but I do know true repentance brings life.

May your eyes be opened this week to “snakes” and your hearts and minds be guarded with truth!

 

 

You Know Me

I read words today that very much spoke to my heart. It was the answer to a question asked, “Anything else you would like me to know about you?” The response was, “You know me.” Three simple words to an easy question. How many of us can say these words now, but remember years of wanting to be known? Do middle school flashbacks quickly come to mind? Maybe it has been a lifetime struggle. For me, it has been an on and off battle. It is very hard to let someone know you when you do not know yourself. Thankfully, I now know who I am because I have heard God through the Bible tell me who I am. What a difference truth makes!

IMG_8962A parenting conviction of mine is to continually remind the kids of who God says they are too. I will not put them in a box of my own making. Oh, make no mistake about it, I tried when the older two were little. A nice, very matching and well behaved box. This was a bit sustainable with two children, but the more we added, the harder it was to pull off. For this I am so thankful! Another way God has used my children to remove that which does not belong.

How about you? Do you know who you are and can others say they know you? Do you reach out and try to get to know others or do you stay in closed off circles, refusing to let anyone new in? Because we moved a lot growing up and as a married couple, there have been plenty of times that I have been the new girl. This has given me a very sensitive heart to new people, if I am not focused on myself. When someone opens up the circle and invites you in, everything changes. As the one doing the welcoming, you get to meet someone new. Maybe they are a sister in Christ. That means you have now met another family member! If you are the new girl, your fears are relieved and you can relax a bit and enjoy getting to know others.

How about we start this week looking for ways to be known and to get to know others? May each of us be able to say, “You know me” to more new people in the years ahead.

 

 

Everyday Lessons

I know that I am being taught something each and everyday by God. What He teaches me in His word each morning is incredible. It is life to me! Then all throughout the day, so much can be used as a teaching tool if I have my eyes and heart open. You know, that is a big part of how we parent here. We bring the kids along to whatever it is we are doing and invite them to be apart. They do the same with us. They learn to count at the grocery store, as we put fruit and vegetables in a bag. They learn colors by helping me sort and fold laundry. They learn about Jesus by the daily reading of His word, praying, watching and listening to those of us at home that already love Him. The list could go on.

IMG_9107This past week has held many lessons. Our youngest started preschool and it is the first time in almost 17 years that a child has not been home during the day. It is the quietest sound I have ever heard, but good. Her outfit had been picked out since meet the teacher day and was carefully laid out. She was adamant that I get the papers filled out as soon as we got them. And she forgot to shower one night because she was too busy smiling in anticipation. She had a great day at school and loved every minute! I am learning to enjoying the sound of quiet more throughout the day. I only get one day because that is all she goes to school:).

An older daughter taught a good lesson. My hair needed a trim and since it is straight and I am cheap, I usually get Anna Kate to cut it. Well, she was not awake yet, so another beauty volunteered. I asked for half an inch trim, but was given at least a three inch bonus. A choice had to be made – freak out or own my mistake. I am the one that asked a precious 10 year old to do something most go to school for and receive training. If I lost it with letting words of condemnation fly, I would communicate to her that my outward appearance matters more to me than her feelings for starters. I would drive home that the risk of trying something new is not worth trying because you might make a mistake. Making a mistake is not acceptable and she did not meet my high expectations, would be a seed planted in her heart. Guess what happens when you train a child up this way? They stop trying because they will never be granted approval. It might have cost me months of letting my hair grow, but her heart is in tact. Lesson learned.

Another lesson was that being asked and genuinely wanting to know the response of, “How are you?” is a big deal. This question was asked several times this past week and I gave honest answers because the ones asking cared. A simple fine or quick answer was not what they were looking for. I wonder how many other people are just waiting to be asked this question and really heard? This needs to be asked more and given time to be answered. So simple, but forgotten in our busy days.

I read this line on Instagram today from Bob Goff. He says, “When I say I don’t have time, what I really lack is compassion. People own watches; love owns time.” Isn’t that good?! The lesson to be learned is we make time for what we love. Take a look at what you spend your time on and you will probably see what you love most. I will be taking a careful look over my paper calendar and making sure my time is spent on love. My hair might be a bit shorter than I would like and I might have a smiling, non showered girl, but we love and learn well in our home. I pray all that enter our home leave feeling loved and they are worth every minute of our time.

 

 

 

New Wine

Sometimes we sing a new song at church and I feel like I have finally been given the words my heart could not find. This happened a few weeks ago when we had New Wine, by Hillsong, sung over us. We have sung it since and it has been on constant play here. The words are powerful and real. If I had confidence in my waterproof mascara that day, I would have let myself weep. That would come early the next morning.

IMG_9015The song begins describing the season we seem to have been in since early December. “In the crushing, in the pressing, You are making new wine out of me. In the soil I now surrender. You are breaking new ground.” It describes pain, but the promise of something new. I am pretty certain none of us would sign up for anything that would press and crush us, but it happens whether we enroll or not. However, keep reading and in the surrender, new ground and wine are the result. The key is surrender.

What comes next has been the words that describe my hearts response in this season. “So I yield to You and to Your careful hand. When I trust You, I don’t need to understand.” This part I learned in the last time of “wine making”. The theme song for the last time was, “Thy Will” by Hillary Scott. The line I clung to was, “Remember You are God and I am not”. Over and over I repeated that in my head and heart. It seemed to be the only way. In the yielding, trust grew because I knew whose hands I was placing my heart in again.

Keep going and hear my prayer. “Make me Your vessel. Make me an offering. Make me whatever You want me to be. I came here with nothing, but all You have given me. Jesus bring new wine out of me.” I really do not want any of my old self in this new vessel. If you have tasted even a sip of bitterness, selfishness, anger and pride you can understand. Also, all we have belongs to God. Trying to control and hoard what He has given us, tastes like spoiled wine when withheld from others. What a waste of good grapes. Just think what could have been enjoyed…

“Where there is new wine, there is new power. There is new freedom. The Kingdom is here. I lay down my old flames to carry Your new fire today.” So, if we have surrendered in the pressing and crushing, then new power, freedom and His Kingdom is what is available. And if that were not enough, our small flames we have clung to can be ungraded to a new fire! The picture of the light from a tiny match compared to a beautiful fire pit comes to mind. Now, gathered around that and a good glass of wine sounds pretty inviting.

I do not know where each of you are today, but I have given you a glimpse of where I am. Knowing this, think how fun it was to go into my favorite store, Simple Things, and see a beautiful display of grapevines bearing grapes! The owner told me he found them across the street, wrapped around a telephone pole. I took it as the Lord communicating to me that He does see me. In seeing me, I am reminded of His love for me. He is trustworthy and a good God, especially in this season of making new wine.