Faith

We keep our Christmas cards in a basket and the kids pick one out each night for us to pray for that family. Last night, one of the kids picked a card out of the basket and I was surprised to see that it was one of our family cards from 2012. It was fun to look at the beautiful pictures of the kids and see how much everyone has changed. I opened up the card and read, “Wishing you the gift of faith and the blessing of hope.” Who knew it was me that would need more faith and hope in the following years. I was given the gift of both and I am thankful. It has not been easy and I have wanted to give up often, but God had another plan.

img_0449Yesterday morning, hours before opening that card, I had read Isaiah 7:9 that says, “If you do not stand firm in your faith, then you will not stand at all.” I also read in 1 Timothy 1:4 where it says, “…God’s plan, which operates by faith.” These two verses both have the common factor of faith. Sometimes it is not easy to have faith. Goodness, some might even ask what is faith? Look at Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Faith is necessary for God’s plan and hope.

Can I ask you, where is it or who is it you are placing your hope? What are you standing on if it is not faith? Yesterday I read these words by Paul David Tripp, “Your life will be shaped by what you place your hope in.” This is such a true statement. For years I stood mostly on faith and hope in Christ, but I added other things in there that helped me feel worthy. And just like the Bible says, because my faith was not firm and my hope was misplaced, I began to fall.

Go back to the book of Isaiah and read chapter 42:8. “I am the LORD. That is my name and I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols.” My sin problem did not go unnoticed by God and I am so thankful. He did not leave me to live any longer in this unbalanced state, with one foot in Christ and one foot in this world, that is so full of idols that promise worth. Freedom was found when my balancing act stopped working and I came to the end of myself. None of my go-to hopes were available and I was left with Jesus. Can I tell you that I have never been more full of love, joy, peace, freedom and faith than I am now. The emptying of self and worthless idols gave room for Him. Praise God!

The verse that follows, God clearly stating that He will not share His glory or praise, gives me tremendous hope. “The past events have indeed happened. Now I declare new events; I announce them to you before they occur.” (Isaiah 42:9). I acknowledge my sin. I repent of placing my hope and faith in all things other than the Lord. I have learned MANY lessons and know the lies the world flashes across our eyes and the whispers we hear in our ears, do not last. And now, I am more than ready to be told of “new events” and maybe you are too.

May the only One who came bring, plant and grow faith and hope remind you today of how much He loves you. And may new events be seen coming from His faithful, powerful hand.

*Picture by Corrimages

 

The Calm Home

Our new year is well underway and I have rediscovered something. Our family functions  so much better in an organized home. We waste less time, stress levels stay low and our home is calmer in general. When we know where to look for what we need and actually find it, a difference is felt. On the flip side, when we are headed out the door and expect our shoes to be in the cubbies and they are not, well stress rises. In our home, anger and frustration are the next emotions. Makes for a terrible start of the day. It does not have to be this way.

img_0324To go back to my childhood, I was raised in a very organized home. Everything had a place and you were expected to put your things back. It was a bit frustrating in my teenage years and college found me rebelling in this area. I piled clothes so high in my desk chair that I am surprised it did not break under the weight! Instead of not remaining diligent in putting things away, I became lazy and lacked self discipline. Looking back I can now see that this lack of self discipline or self control, spilled over in many areas, mainly my eating. Gracious, I put on so much weight! This did terrible things to my self image. Again, this did not have to happen.

I have no desire for my kids to have to experience this needless lifestyle, all because they lack self control. If that is instilled now in a healthy way, I pray they will not go down that road. Our home does not have a perfect feel, but more welcoming. It is not cold when you enter, but inviting. And other than the sheer number of people making noise, my hope is that it is a calm home. Chaos tends to make people feel uncomfortable and so does clutter. I do not desire anyone to experience that when they are a guest here and for that matter, any of us living here to live that way.

With all of these thoughts swirling around in my head, I decided to launch out and do something new. With the kids getting older and my time more free, I am launching a  new business. The name is The Calm Home and I am pretty excited! The plan is for me to go into peoples homes, look at the space that is causing them stress and organize it in a functional and stylish way. The other part is to help clients, who are ready to sell their home, stage it in a way that will appeal to buyers. Taking what comes easy to me and an eye for beauty, I am praying this is an opportunity to serve others.

I know I have said this before, but I get asked often how I am so calm with 7 kids. The answer remains the same, it is a choice. I can either choose to be calm or not. I can choose to have self control and not let my emotions of anger, frustration or whatever it may be, rule in the moment. This is only possible because the power of the Holy Spirit living inside of me. I want this for other people, especially moms!! So, that is the heart behind this new adventure.

Come check out the website and let me know what you think!

Website: http://www.thecalmhomefw.com

Dear Kids

As you all headed out the door for school this morning, I was left with a too quiet house.  It hit me how much I like you all being home. I do not like to share my family, especially with school. Selfishly, I want to hear your jokes, wipe your tears and answer your questions. I want to watch your face shine with delight when you finally figure out a problem that you have been struggling with. However, at this time, we do not feel like pulling you from public school and homeschooling is what the Lord would have us do. So, off you all went this morning.

img_0541If we brought you home, I would be delighted, but your schools would lose bright lights. You kids shine and stand out because of Jesus. Your schools would be a bit darker because you left and so you stay. And I give up my will for His again this morning. I ask for His kingdom to reign and not mine. I ask for Him to remain as King of my heart and I will stay bowed low at His feet. I will choose again today to trust Him.

As each of you kids are sitting at your desks and I am typing from my desk at home, I will pray this verse over you. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13). Lets be a family today, kids, that is filled to overflowing with hope, peace and trust, only possible by the power of the Holy Spirit inside of us, so that everyone we meet catches a glimpse of our God. You know who you are and why you are here, so shine on kids. Shine on!

I love you,

Mom

PS Cookies will be waiting for you when you get home.

 

No Record

We have a huge sign in our living room with words defining love, taken from 1 Corinthians 13, and I walk by it several times a day. It is a reminder for our family and something I desire for us. We also have big letters displayed that spell GRACE. Another visual for us to see that reminds us of the grace we have been extended and therefore we are to do the same. When I think about all that God sees and knows, yet loves me anyways, I am so thankful. How can I not respond with love and grace to others?

img_0035But can I tell you what the hardest part of 1 Corinthians 13 is for me? The line from verse 5 that says, “Love keeps no record of wrongs.” I do not sit around and think of wrongs committed against me, but at times they come seemingly out of nowhere into my mind. Or maybe it is something spoken that kinda presses on an old scar. Why is that I wonder? I want others to forgive me and extend grace to the wrongs I have committed, but am I holding myself to a lesser standard? I pray not. God has said that He has forgiven my sins by the sacrifice of His Son, so how can I keep a record of others sins? I want to have His heart for others and not one that is filled with their sins against me or someone I love. This does not mean that sin gets swept under the rug, but I do not want it to have a place in my head or heart. God sees and knows. I can trust Him with it all.

As this new year takes off, I want to stop often and read God’s definition of love. I want the words He knew we needed to be planted deep in my heart. I want love to be my first response and not only given at certain times, to a select few. I want grace to share in abundance too. If He could wrap up His Son and give him to us, then maybe this year I can wrap up more love and grace for others too.

With this in mind, I think I found a key that might help us be more loving and grace filled. Jenni Allen posted a quote recently by Andrew Murray and I quickly ordered his book! He wrote, “Humility is perfect quietness of heart. It is to expect nothing, to wonder at nothing that is done to me, to feel nothing done against me. It is to be at rest when nobody praises me, and when I am blamed or despised. It is to have a blessed home in the Lord, where I can go in and shut the door, and kneel to my Father in secret, and am at peace as in a deep sea of calmness, when all around and above is trouble.” Doesn’t this sound incredible? Can I teach this way of humility to my children? For me, before I teach something, I have to first learn it and then practice alongside. I see the only way to live in humility is to live secure in God’s love and continually say no to selfishness.

As Christmas break winds down and the kids head back to school, I find a hit of anxiousness setting in. In our home, things are controlled in a sense. If hurtful words are spoken, action is taken. If untruth is heard, we replace it with truth. If there are questions, we find answers. The list goes on. However, as the kids are away for so much of the day, I am a bit out of the loop. I have to trust the One who created them each and everyday. They belong to Him. My job is to love them and to shape their hearts, as He has instructed. In this, I pray their foundations are being built to live outside of our home. I want them to live loved, secure, full of grace, to appreciate beauty, to run from sin and to be humble. I want the same for you and for me.

So, I will start tomorrow in my “secret place” with the doors shut and meet with my Heavenly Father. I will read His words of love, grace and humility and I will pray. It will be a waste of time if I get up and live the same. And for the places that my heart struggles and my mind remembers wrongs, I will choose humility instead. The verse that I will keep close will be, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See I am doing a new thing!” (Isaiah 43:18-19). I do not know what the new thing will be, but I trust the One who loves me. And as we prayed in church this morning, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10-11).