Wednesday, June 27, 2012

"For His Own Glory"

A little something I wrote for the Littles.  We sing this almost every day during Bible Time.

I'm nitpicky, so it bothers me that I couldn't get everything just exactly the way I wanted it on the notation.  This was the best I could do notating my song on the free downloadable version of Finale Notepad.  Working with technology is a good exercise in letting go of perfection, is it not?  :)

Share it as you like - it is free to use "for His own glory"!  Just please don't publish it or sell it without my permission.

Hope you and the Littles that you love enjoy the song!
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Building Character: Kindness

As a family, we are studying a character trait each week, and are beginning with the Fruits of the Spirit. We are just getting started, so up until now, we have talked about Love, Joyfulness, Peaceable, and Patience.  If you want more information on the nuts and bolts of what we are doing, you can read how to get started on this post.

This week's character quality is KINDNESS.  Kindness is more than just "not being mean", it is actively doing good towards others, and that is the point that I think is most important for children.  Kindness is not convenient or accidental.  Kindness goes out of its way to show someone love. 

KINDNESS vs. meanness
Showing love and doing good towards others.

Romans 12:10 - "Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another."

This Week's Bible Story:  2 Samuel 9:1-13
I chose the story of David showing kindness to Mephibosheth because David goes out of his way to show him kindness when most men would not have done it.  2 Samuel 9:1 reads, "Then David said, “Is there yet anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”

The amount of back story you need to cover will depend upon how familiar your children are with the time of King David.  Even if they remember, it would be helpful to briefly review the friendship of David and Jonathan (2 Samuel 18:1-3) and how Mephibosheth was injured (2 Samuel 4:4). 

At the very beginning of David's reign, he asked if there were any left of the house of Saul to whom he could show kindness.  King Saul and all of his sons had been killed at the same time during a terrible battle with the Philistines (1 Samuel 31:6).  It is remarkable to me, that David asked if there were any left of the house of Saul because King Saul had pursued him relentlessly for years trying to kill him.  Nevertheless, David always showed the utmost respect to "the Lord's anointed".  It was a blessing from the Lord that the one remaining descendent, Mephibosheth was the son of his closest friend, Jonathan, for whose sake he wanted to show this kindness. 

Mephibosheth was lame in his feet and according to the custom of the day, would not be fit to receive such an honor from the King.  Mephibosheth was conscious of this, and the fact that his grandfather Saul had been David's enemy when he said, "What is your servant that you should look upon such a dead dog as I?"  But David did not let past history or present conventions stop him from doing the right thing.  He explained to Mephibosheth that he wished to show him kindness for the sake of his father, Jonathan.  David promised to restore the land of Saul, his grandfather, to him, and said that Mephibosheth would eat at the King's table continually, just like one of his own sons. 

King David kept his promise to Mephibosheth and showed him kindness all of his days.

  • Talk about what it means to "give preference to one another".  You can use the parable of taking the lower seat in Luke 14:7-14 to illustrate this. 
  • Another example is to set out a bowl of treats for each child.  We have blueberries in our house right now, but use whatever you have.  Put an obvious amount of extra in one bowl.  Each child will want the bowl with the most blueberries.  Ask, "What does Jesus want us to do?  Would he want us to be selfish and take the bowl with the most treats for ourselves?"  
  • Reward and lavishly praise outstanding acts of kindness you witness in your home for the week.  Another idea is to praise the child that gives a good report on one of their siblings.  (Kind of the opposite of tattling.) 
  • Discuss what an honor it would be to eat at the King's table and what this would mean.  (The choices foods for every meal, abundance, being in the presence of the King every day, etc...)
  • Was Mephibosheth able to return to King David the kindness shown to him?  Did David stand to benefit at all from his kindness?  If anything, there were probably men who thought he was crazy for inviting this lame grandson of his enemy to live with him and eat at his table.  David did it anyway, because it was the right thing to do.
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Friday, June 22, 2012

Exploring Textures with Shaving Cream

Suggested Supplies:
  • a can of cheap shaving cream
  • a plastic comb
  • plastic cards (credit card sized) - great for scraping
  • a wet washcloth
  • a towel
  • it helps to do this project near a sink for easier clean up

Some ground rules:
  • The shaving cream has to stay on your hands.  
  • You may not put shaving cream in your hair or on your clothes, nor on your brother's hair or clothes.  
  • You may not put it on your face.  Be careful not to touch your face while you are playing with your shaving cream.  (It really burns if it gets in the eyes.)
I just put a little pile in front of each of them and let them explore.  At first, they were a little freaked out by the texture and wanted me to get it off of them NOW.  I encouraged them to keep trying it, rubbing their hands on the table, squishing it, showed them how to scrape it up and make little designs in it and they were quickly engrossed.  I just LOVE the looks of concentration in this picture:

It was a successful experience!

If you want to expand upon it, you can have your kids draw shapes or letters.  I just let them explore this time.  I tried not to talk to them too much.  Sometimes mama's talking is just distracting them from the learning they are trying to do.  :)

I got the idea for the activity from this book:

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

The winner is...

According to -

Entry #2 - Robyn!!

If you are still interested in reading the Four Moms E-book, which I highly recommend, you can download the Kindle edition from Amazon for $5.99.  (My review of the book is here in case you missed it.)

(Full disclosure:  if you buy it through my link, I make all of about $.37  So I benefit, but not much.  I am recommending it because I think it's a great resource!)

You can catch The Four Moms on their own blogs every Thursday at:
The Common Room
Smockity Frocks
Life in a Shoe and
Raising Olives

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

De-cluttering the Kitchen

or perhaps a more descriptive title:  Fewer Knives, More Coffee Cups

With our recent move, I did a LOT of de-cluttering in the kitchen.  I have slowly come to realize that I strongly prefer a high quality, multi-use tool to a specialized gadget that takes up space in my kitchen.  For the best example of that, you can read why I got rid of my garlic press.

De-cluttering in general is a good and needful thing.  We tend to accumulate too much stuff.  More stuff means more time spent trying to maintain and organize that stuff.  An uncluttered kitchen where everything has a place is a wonderfully freeing thing. I have also found that when I have less, I am forced to do a better job keeping up with washing the dishes and I can always use encouragement in that area!

Alton Brown recommends that any item you haven't used in 3 months goes into storage outside of your working kitchen (boxed and labeled in basement storage or a closet) and any item you haven't used in a year just goes.  Ouch!  But this is a rather good guideline and it will help you keep your sanity. It also allows for the odd items that are truly useful to you and your family.  For us, that means keeping a food processor, a tortilla press, and an egg cooker.  For others that may mean a blender, a waffle iron, or a rice cooker. 

In regards to knives, don't buy a set of knives because only 1/3 of them will be truly useful.  Don't buy fancy choppers that are a pain to clean when a knife will do the job just as well.  Buy only what you need.  You can cut anything with just four knives in your kitchen.  Get GOOD knives that you can easily sharpen, especially a good chef's knife.  Don't be scared of big knives.  Big knives are much easier to control than small, thin blades. 

So here are a couple of knife storage options with my recommended knives:
From left to right:  cheese slicer, carving knife (for roasts and large cuts of meat), bread knife, tomato knife (now moved in with canning supplies), two paring knives, chef's knife and two pair of kitchen shears (GREAT for cutting up food for the Littles)

At first, I was a little scared to have my knives so exposed, but if you have an out-of-the-way place for a magnet strip like this, it's a wonderful system.

In our current house, we can't mount the magnet strip on the wall, so we're back to knives in a drawer.  I recommend that rubbery shelf liner to keep them from sliding around.  Having so few knives, I can easily lay my hands on what I want without fear of cutting myself.  Here we have -

Same knives, only the kitchen shears and the cheese slicer are in a different drawer.  I have also recently learned that you should not store your knives in a sheath or a knife block.  The sheaths are almost impossible to clean and will dull your knives much sooner.  I save the sheaths for when my knives need to travel.

I don't know about you, but the kitchen is my primary workspace in our home.  Tackle a cabinet or drawer at a time and determine if you need to do some weeding out.  Just make sure in your efforts to minimize, you keep hospitality in mind.  Get rid of the gadgets, or at least most of them.  Keep the coffee cups.  Haven't used those extra coffee cups in a year?  HAVE SOME PEOPLE OVER!  :)

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Building Character: Patience

As a family, we are studying a character trait each week, and are beginning with the Fruits of the Spirit. We are just getting started, so up until now, we have talked about Love, Joyfulness, and being Peaceable.  If you want more information on the nuts and bolts of what we are doing, you can read how to get started on this post.

This week's character quality is Patience.  Patience is a hard one for kids to learn.  (Hey, it's a hard one for adults to learn!)  The best way to learn is to practice! 

PATIENCE vs. restlessness
Quietly and steadily accepting a difficult situation from God.

Romans 5:3-4 - "And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope."

This passage is a challenge to explain to young children and the context of this chapter in Romans is even more difficult to explain.  This is how I talked about it:  Our family motto is "Do hard things."  Tribulations are hard things.  But God wants us to be happy about doing hard things, knowing that when we do them, it makes us stronger so that tomorrow we can do even more hard things and we can do them better than we did today.  Doing hard things every day will give us strong character.  Having strong character will help us stay focused on the hope of heaven that God gives us through Jesus.

For this week's Bible Story I chose the well-known story of Noah because I knew my children would be able to somewhat relate to the patience Noah needed to have.  They are very familiar with the story, so we did not go over it in detail, but if you would like to do so, it is found in Genesis 6-8.

We focused on the part of the story where Noah and his family were inside the ark with all of the animals for almost an entire year.  We talked about how long it felt waiting for Big Littles to go from one birthday to the next and how hard it was to be patient.  We talked about the challenges of living in a small space with so many animals making noise, needing lots of care, probably getting restless themselves.  I asked them to imagine our house as the ark and asked them what it would feel like if we were not allowed to go outside of it for an entire year - no going in the backyard to play, no driving in the car, no going to parks and playgrounds...  I could tell that the challenge of Noah's difficult situation was sinking in and that they could actually feel inside themselves how hard it would be to stay patient while waiting on God to say they could leave the ark. 
  • According to the definition, being patient means "quietly accepting" a difficult situation.  We are not being patient if we are complaining, whining, and grumbling.  
  • Talk about how Noah was rewarded for his patience.  God brought his whole family safely through onto dry land again and made a promise with a beautiful rainbow as a sign of the promise.  We can trust that God will be faithful to us, we just have to be patient and wait on the Lord.  
  • Ask for ideas of things we can do while we are patiently waiting on the Lord.  (#1 being to pray!  Also, reading God's word, serving others, etc...)
  • For further reading, discuss Psalm 27.  If your children are restless, just discuss verses 13 and 14.  These words were not written by Noah, but it does seem like he would have had similar thoughts:
"I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.

Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!"

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Monday, June 18, 2012

All Things Are Ready... Come to the Feast!

Revelation 19:9 - "Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!"

(This is my own parable. Take it for what it is worth.)

The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son.  He sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding.  He arranged for a great supper and invited many.

Isaiah 55:1-2 - "Ho!  Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters... Eat what is good and let your soul delight itself in abundance." 

The feast was beyond imagination because the king delighted in blessing his people.  He had made careful arrangements.  His desire was to provide a feast that would offer true and long-lasting satisfaction for above all, he loved his people.

A woman came to the feast in her loveliest apparel.  She wanted the king to notice her finery in order to secure for herself a good place in the kingdom.

But this woman was a rather picky eater.  She did not care for the king's food, and when he offered her a plate that he knew would satisfy her and provide everything she needed to flourish in her life, she turned him down rather impolitely and said, "No thanks, I brought my own food."  She proceeded to take a small package of cold, greasy french fries out of her purse and she started munching on those.  "Got any ketchup?" she asked the king. 

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Sometimes I feel like this is what we do to God when he offers us blessings.   He offers rich blessings that He knows will be so good for us and will fill our lives with what we truly need.  And we want to come to His feast, we truly do!  We want to be a part of his kingdom!  But we want to drag our own baggage and selfish desires along with us.  We want to keep eating our nasty, stale food every day instead of gratefully accepting His wonderful blessings.  We just don't know what we are missing.

How do you think this makes God feel?  Have you ever had someone turn down a delicious dinner you carefully and lovingly prepared?  (Do you have children?  HA!)  What if your husband did this to you?  God wants to give us His best blessings on this earth.  David says it better than I ever could:

Psalm 34:8-10
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good;
Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!
Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints! 
There is no want to those who fear Him.
The young lions lack and suffer hunger;
But those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.

Linking up with The Modest Mom: 

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Sunday, June 17, 2012

"Heavenly Father, Bless Me Now"

Heavenly Father, bless me now;
At the cross of Christ I bow;
Take my guilt and grief away;
Hear and heal me now, I pray.

Now, O Lord, this very hour,
Send Thy grace and show Thy power;
While I rest upon Thy Word;
Come, and bless me now, O Lord.

Mercy now, O Lord, I plead
In this hour of utter need;
Turn me not away unblest;
Calm my anguish into rest.

O Thou loving, bless├Ęd One,
Rising o’er me like the sun,
Light and life art Thou within;
Savior, Thou, from every sin!

by Alexander Clark

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Friday, June 15, 2012

Block City

Block City
What are you able to build with your blocks?
Castles and palaces, temples and docks.
Rain may keep raining, and others go roam,
But I can be happy and building at home.

Let the sofa be mountains, the carpet be sea,
There I'll establish a city for me:
A kirk and a mill and a palace beside,
And a harbor as well where my vessels may ride.

Great is the palace with pillar and wall,
A sort of tower on top of it all,
And steps coming down in an orderly way
To where my toy vessels lie safe in the bay.

This one is sailing and that one is moored:
Hark to the song of the sailors on board!
And see on the steps of my palace, the kings
Coming and going with presents and things!

Now I have done with it, down let it go!
All in a moment the town is laid low.
Block upon block lying scattered and free,
What is there left of my town by the sea?

Yet as I saw it, I see it again,
The kirk and the palace, the ships and the men,
And as long as I live and where'er I may be,
I'll always remember my town by the sea.

~ Robert Louis Stevenson

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Book Review and a GIVEAWAY!

"This is motherhood, and it’s very much the same whether you have 1 child or 11. You are being sanctified every day, and God is using your children to do His work in you."
4 Moms 35 Kids

I'm giving away a free copy of the e-book "4 Moms of 35+ Kids Answer Your Parenting Questions" and four of my favorite bloggers on the web are the famous Four Moms.  You can meet them here if you aren't already familiar with them.

So you may be thinking, "Church Mouse, I don't have 35 kids, so why would I ever need to read a book like that?"

When my firstborn was just a tiny babe, I figured out that while many older mothers with grown children have some wonderful advice, many have just plain forgotten what it feels like to care for small children, taking care of their intense needs while trying to take care of your husband and your home. 

But I knew two mothers at the time, and have since met a few more (including my friend, The Deputy Headmistress), that had grown children (and even grandchildren) while still caring for their own young children and babies.  These mothers really remember what it is like, could truly identify with what I was going through, and gave me the best advice of any of the Christian mothers I knew.  I could see the success of their parenting with their older children and simultaneously watch their hard work in action with their youngest.  These are the moms I still look to when I need guidance, encouragement, or even just reassurance. 

That is what you have in The Four Moms.  Four amazing Titus 2 women.  They back up their answers and observations with scripture, and to me, that is most valuable of all.

And this book isn't just about taking care of little ones.  I believe the chapter "How do you teach your children about the birds and the bees?" is worth the entire price of the book.  Maybe that says a lot about me and how much help I am going to need with that one!

Aside from those serious reasons, these women are also just plain hilarious.  They had me laughing again and again.  They don't claim to "have it all together" and they freely share their personal challenges.  They are women just like you and me that just so happen to have a lot of kids and they are sharing 15 chapters chock full of wisdom they have gathered over the years.

You can catch The Four Moms doing related posts on their own blogs every Thursday at:
The Common Room
Smockity Frocks
Life in a Shoe and
Raising Olives

They are doing Q&A this week, so don't miss it!

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

The giveaway is for a free copy of their e-book.  You can choose to have a PDF sent to your e-mail or you can receive the Kindle version.  You do not have to have an e-reader to read this book (I don't!), you can just use your regular computer.  

To enter the giveaway, just leave me a comment saying Hi.  You can earn a second entry by liking Church Mouse on Facebook, just leave another comment with your Facebook name if you please.

Entries close at midnight next Tuesday and I'll announce a winner next Thursday.

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Hard Water

When we moved to our new house, my glassware came out of the dishwasher looking like this:


I did some googling and discovered that my problem was either a filmy coating from hard water or etching from soft water.   Since this happened instantly and not gradually over time, my guess was that I had hard water.  Just to be sure, I did the vinegar test.  I simply sprayed some plain white vinegar on a rag and rubbed the cloudy film away.  This confirmed that I indeed had mineral buildup from hard water.

What is hard water? 
Hard water is water that has high mineral content.  It is generally not harmful to one's health.  A result of hard water is a lack of suds when soap is agitated in water, so the harder your water, the more soap you will generally need to use to get things clean - things like your hair, your laundry, and your dishes.

Next, I needed to know just how hard.  Often when you buy a dishwasher or washing machine, the manual will recommend how much soap to use based upon the hardness of your water.  Our landlord left the manual for the dishwasher with us... the manual from 1990!!! 

We have city water, so I googled the name of our city + "water quality report" and I looked for the most recent year.  It gave me a number of 161 mg/L.  I found a chart online that helped me translate this because my dishwasher manual only listed grains per gallon:

Water Hardness Scale
Grains per gallon
less than 1.0less than 17.1soft
1.0 - 3.517.1-60slightly hard
3.5 - 7.060-120moderately hard
7.0 - 10.5120-180hard
over 10.5over 180very hard

So there you have it.  We have water on the higher end of the "hard" classification, so we would need quite a lot of soap to do the job.  According to my dishwasher manual, we need about 3 Tbs. of detergent.  I have found that I get the best results when I fill both the pod for the wash and the open pod for the pre-wash.

All of that detergent gets expensive, doesn't it?

Not thanks to a homemade detergent recipe I found on Pinterest!!  Hop on over to "Being Creative to Keep My Sanity" for a great dishwasher detergent recipe that works well for hard water.

I was amazed when I saw that I already had most of the ingredients and that is what encouraged me to just give it a try.  I already use many of these things for making my own laundry soap or other cleaners.  You will need:
  • Borax*
  • Washing Soda
  • Citric Acid (found with canning supplies)
  • Epsom Salts
  • LemiShine rinse aid (in my picture above)
I cut the recipe in half to try it out and I think I will do that next time as well for a few reasons.  First, a full recipe won't fit in my storage container.  Second, once mixed, moisture will get into the powder and it will become very hard.  I pull out a table knife each time to chip away what I need.  I don't mind it too much as I'm spending my time, not my money, and it doesn't cost much of my time.  Third, it lasts a long time, so even cut in half, I don't need to make it very often.  I don't know how long because I've only been doing this for about two months, but I still have well over half left and as I said, I have to use a lot of detergent for each wash.

In order to cut the recipe in half I used a kitchen scale because I have one.  I think you could successfully eyeball it if you need to do so.  If you are unsure of the amount of citric acid, I did the math and a half recipe = about a quarter of a 7.5 oz. container. = 12 Kool Aid packets.
Because of the level of hardness of our water, I used the entire container of LemiShine in my recipe, so adapt for your water accordingly.

So I was a little skeptical at first, but my dishes are coming out wonderfully clean and the soap is all dissolving well.  (It didn't always when I used store bought dishwasher detergent.)

If you have soft water, the DHM of The Common Room has been using this recipe with success for quite some time.

*A note on Borax - Borax is a wonderful all natural cleaner, but that does not mean it is safe for children!  It is toxic if ingested and can burn eyes and skin, so you will want to keep your borax and your dishwasher powder stored safely away.  Store bought dishwasher powders are also toxic, so hopefully you have been doing this anyway. 

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Building Character: Peaceable

As a family, we are studying a character trait each week, and are beginning with the Fruits of the Spirit. We are just getting started, so up until now, we have only talked about Love and Joyfulness. If you want more information on the nuts and bolts of what we are doing, you can read how to get started on this post.

This week's character quality is being PEACEABLE.  There are two main aspects of this quality that I want my children to learn.  1) Inner peace that comes from our obedience to Christ 2) Living in peace with others.  This is one of the character qualities that I added, so I had to come up with a definition myself.  I struggled with word choice, so please feel free to make suggestions or changes to convey the message with more clarity. 

PEACEABLE vs. strife
A calm and tranquil soul, working to live in harmony with others.

Romans 12:18 - "If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all."

This character quality is especially useful in working on sibling squabbles.  We greatly encourage each child to actively seek out ways to make peace with his brother and frequently quote Matthew 5:9 - "Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God."  Throughout the week, when the family gathers for meals, highlight outstanding examples of peacemaking you have observed throughout the day.  Even with the challenging vocabulary, using Biblical terms like "peacemaker" and "strife" makes a huge difference and gets the child's attention.   These kinds of words are only over their heads if you neglect to teach them. 

This week's Bible story is from Matthew 8:23-27, where Jesus is in a boat with His disciples crossing the Sea of Galilee.  Suddenly, a great tempest blew up and the waves started crashing into the boat.  The disciples were terrified of the storm, but Jesus lay in the lower part of the boat fast asleep.  The disciples woke him up saying, "Lord, save us!  We are going to die!"  But Jesus calmly said to them, "Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?" Jesus got up and commanded the wind and the waves saying, "Peace, be still!" (that bit from Mark 4:39) Instantly, the waters were calm and the air was still.   The men marveled, saying, "Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?"  And who had the power to do this miracle?  Jesus!

  • The disciples were terrified of the storm, did they have peace in their soul?  Why not?
  • Discuss the instant obedience of the wind and the waves.  If you wish, have a sidetrack discussion on the importance of instant obedience.  (We can always use a review!)
  • Talk about how strife and turmoil in your soul is just like that big storm on the sea.  It is upsetting.  How can we calm our minds?  (by increasing our faith) 
  • This is also a fun story to act out during bath time.  :)

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Monday, June 11, 2012

Awake the Dawn!

A couple of months ago I was studying with an older woman and she suggested starting each day with prayer and devotion to the Lord.  "Easy enough for some," I grumbled in my heart.  How can that even be possible for me when at two years old, my littlest one is still not always sleeping through the night?  How can that be possible, when each morning I try to tiptoe downstairs for a quiet beginning to my morning, those little ears hear and wake up demanding, demanding, demanding.  "Miiiiiiilk", "I'm hungry", "Read a book to me!"  And then there are unspoken, but just as urgent demands like changing a diaper and getting my cup of coffee, STAT!  I spend my afternoon quiet time with the Lord most days, making a list of my blessings, studying and writing.  But she gently urged that even if it is only for a few moments, that I try to make a way. 

And so I let those thoughts work upon my heart and I tried a bit.  But before my 2 cups of coffee in the morning, I am in a fog.  I cannot put together coherent thoughts at all, much less focus on meaningful thoughts of my Lord.  And then you throw in those two little Distractions...  :)

So while I have grown up hearing that rote prayers are meaningless and disdainful, I am beginning to see a meaningful role for a rote prayer in my life.  Not something to be rushed through, but rather something to guide my thoughts when they are most prone to wander through a fog.  A guide for my mind that helps me begin the day with just a few moments devoted to thoughts of my Lord.  This is a habit I am working to develop and it is challenging, but I am already seeing great benefit.  So I will share my morning prayer here in hopes it will inspire anyone else struggling in a similar way.

  • You are the One Holy God.  
  • Your loving kindness is great.  
  • You are my God and I exalt You above the heavens.  
  • May all creation glorify You on earth.
  • Gift of Jesus and salvation
  • my family
  • the gift of each new day 
  • Wisdom
  • Strength for today
  • Pray for my husband - help me to fulfill my role as his help meet, guard his heart
  • Pray for each child by name - ask the Lord to instill in them a love and a desire for Him, pray that each will make the choice to be His disciple, ask that He will help guard their hearts
  • Help me have the law of kindness on my lips today
  • Help me freely share Your Word
  • Help me fulfill the purpose You have for me today 
  • Help me to bring glory to Your name today and forever
These are the things that I have chosen.  What do you make a habit of praying about in the mornings?  I would love to hear other ways you have found to make time with the Lord a daily habit.  Maybe you are still struggling in this area.  I can surely sympathize.  But do share.  Your comments are always one of the highlights of my day!

Linking up with The Modest Mom and Raising Arrows today - 


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Building Character: Joyfulness

As a family, we are studying a character trait each week, and are beginning with the Fruits of the Spirit.
We are just getting started, so up until now, we have only talked about Love.
If you want more information on the nuts and bolts of what we are doing, you can read how to get started on this post.

This week, we are talking about JOYFULNESS.  I especially like the operational definition of this one because it focuses on our spiritual state rather than circumstances in life that are out of our control.  Even when we are experiencing sorrow in our lives, we can have inner joy knowing that God has given us the gift of salvation.

JOYFULNESS vs. self-pity or sorrow -
Pouring out a happy spirit when my soul is in fellowship with the Lord.

The corresponding Bible passage we used is Psalm 16:11 - "You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever."

I chose the Bible story of King David bringing the Ark of the Covenant back to the tabernacle in Jerusalem, where it was once again in its rightful place in 2 Samuel 6.  We talked about how the Philistines, enemies of God had stolen it (1 Samuel 4), but with God's help David was able to defeat the Philistine army (2 Samuel 5).  Now David wanted to bring glory to the Lord by bringing the ark back to Jerusalem.

The only problem was that David and the priests did not obey God's commands about how to handle the ark the first time.  They put the ark on a new cart pulled by oxen and when the oxen stumbled, a man named Uzzah put out his hand to steady the ark.  God was angry that Uzzah would disobey the command to never touch the ark and struck Uzzah dead for his disobedience.  David went from being joyful, to being sober-minded as he realized his terrible mistake.  The ark stayed in a nearby house for three months while David learned what to do.

Finally, David was ready to bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem and he was prepared to do it in the way God commanded, with the priests carrying it by the poles.  Along the way, David made many animal sacrifices to the Lord and David was so filled with joy that the Bible says that he came into the city dancing and leaping with all his might before the Lord.  There were trumpets sounding and shouts of joy, cymbals, harps and stringed instruments playing, and when the ark was set in its place in the tabernacle, David offered more animal sacrifices and peace offerings to the Lord.  Then David joyfully blessed the people of Israel and shared a loaf of bread, a piece of meat, and a cake of raisins with each person. 

David also wrote this Psalm to express his joy that day:  1 Chronicles 16:8-36
I suggest reading the first and the last part at the very least.  If the Littles are getting restless, this can be saved for a reading at another time of the day or for another day's Bible time.

Discussion:  Why did David want to bring the ark back to Jerusalem?  (Selfish reasons or for the glory of God?)  Discuss the difference between the first time David tried to bring back the ark when it was not done according to God's commands and the second time when it was done in obedience.  Which gave true joy?  Talk about the outward ways David poured out a happy spirit in this story - what things did he do to show his joy?

Joyfulness is discussed throughout the Bible and I'll be honest and say that I struggle with outwardly showing my joy.  This verse is one of my very favorites, and I try to keep it posted prominently to help me remember to keep a joyful heart no matter what my outside circumstances:

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Monday, June 4, 2012

Christian Feminism: Believing the Lie

My excuses for not writing this post:
  • I really don't have time to do this today.  
  • I will surely hurt someone's feelings.
  • I will make people angry and this could end up hurting my family. 
  • I have a headache.   
  • In fact, I wrote this post a week and a half ago and I'm just now putting it up.  I almost chickened out.
But some things are too important to keep quiet about, and in my heart, I know that this is one of those things.  Please hear my heart and learn from my blind and sinful attitude in times past.

I have always been a bit of a dreamer, an idealist, a visionary.  From the time I was a child, I was fed a lie:
"You can do anything you set your mind to do.  You can have it all."
So I took that lie and ran with it.  I was strongly deluded.  I was a Christian feminist with a drive for success - a career woman.  I, of course, did not think I was a Christian feminist, and would have been offended had someone called me one.  But that is what I was.  My heart pursued the vain glory that this world has to offer.  And I thought I was just fine because I had obeyed the gospel and thought I was serving God.  But God did not truly have my heart... my whole heart.  And my dear sisters, I know that I am not the only woman that has been so deluded.  It has taken me years to come around and to find God's path for me again, and as I searched for His truth, I thought to myself, "Why did no one tell me?  Why did no one warn me?"

But there were moments where people DID try to tell me and warn me.  I remember a huge blow up with my parents over paying for college.  They had agreed to pay for half of my schooling, imagining that I would just spend two years at a Christian school.  I was so angry and upset when I realized this because I had great plans for a four year degree and perhaps even beyond, with a career after that.  Oh I had originally planned a degree that could be useful as a stay at home mother, but hearing voices all through college, "You have such talent, you must use it..."  "Don't waste your God-given gifts..."  Those were the voices I was listening to.  I believed I could have it all.  And I had great plans.
Proverbs 16:9 - The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.
I remember when I was engaged to my husband and nearly lost him because of my own foolish plans.  I really don't know why he put up with me back then.  I showed all the signs of being a pain-in-the-neck, unsubmissive wife.  (And I was for several years.)  I remember when we had been married a few years and my Granny gently warned me that if I waited too long to have children, things might not work out in the way I was hoping.  But I did not listen to these words of caution.  I was riding a train taking me to places where I thought I would "make a difference", trying to drag the Lord along with me.  And I am thankful that He helped me realize my great sin.  There were moments where it was as though God Himself was gently saying to me, "Is it hard for you to kick against the goads?"

Perhaps you once rode that same train.  Many Christian women do.  Perhaps you still are.  One of these days, like me, you may come to yourself and realize that it is time to jump off because that train is going the way of our mainstream culture, not the way of Christ.   

It will be a a leap.  A BIG leap.

It means more than just staying at home.  It means having your heart in the home and being happy to be there.  It means making a slow investment each and every day in the souls of the people around you and not seeing a return on your investment for many, many years.  It means sacrificing all of yourself, laying down your life to be a servant - a servant of Christ, your husband, and your children.  It means dying to self.  It is not a glamorous life.  But is is a life filled with blessings from the Lord and FREEDOM, (Romans 8:21) the freedom that only comes from being in the center of God's will. 

It would be better if you have the wisdom to never get on that train in the first place.  It would be better to have a vision for God's will for your life all along.  I do hope that you can search the scriptures and find God's way so you can become a LIBERATED woman... liberated in Christ.
Galatians 5:1 - Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. 
Proverbs 16:3 - Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.
Because this is THE thing... the ONLY thing:
Ecclesiastes 12:13 - The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.  
Nothing else matters.

This post is my way-too-long commentary on a series Serena has been running on her blog.  I highly recommend reading it because she just says what is in the scriptures.  
Help Wanted:  Mothers Needed
What Does the Bible Say About Having Kids?
Life Is Short, Discover What Really Matters
So Many Choices, So Little Time
What Does the Bible Say About the Assault on Women?
Does Feminism Really Lead to Freedom?

I also highly recommend Passionate Housewives Desperate for God by Jennie Chancey and Stacey McDonald.  

Linking up with:

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