My one word

I always love a fresh start. A new beginning. Another chance. I think my mind is trained from school- especially college- to think that this new beginning happens twice a year….I think of life in semesters! In reality, everyday we have a chance for a new beginning. But I do think it’s worthwhile to ponder what we might can do differently in the year ahead.

So as we approach this beginning of a new year, not much will change for me that I can see as of now. No new classes. No new job. The family and I will continue our “normal” life- whatever that means- and the tendency will be there for me to not really do anything differently than I have been.

I don’t usually make new year’s resolutions because I don’t like the thought of getting 3 weeks into the year and nothing has changed….or getting to the end of the year and seeing those things not realized in my life. “10 lbs lost”….and the 10 lbs is still there. “Read these books”….and the books are half-read, at best, at the end of the year. “Keep the house clean”….ha ha ha. 🙂

What I have done the past few years is to pray about the year ahead and ask the Lord to  reveal to me verses from scripture- to highlight a one or a few for me- that He would have me to be about in the upcoming year. And He really does seem to hit home that theme in my life that year. His hand refines.

As of right now, one word comes to my mind and heart for this upcoming year: freedom. Freedom from a lot of things. Freedom from comparison. Such a joy-stealer and isn’t it so easy for us as moms to do? Please tell me I’m not the only one! I never end up on the good side of that comparison…even if I did, I shouldn’t do it, but all it leads to is me getting down on myself for not doing what I think I should be doing as a mom (and I won’t even get into as a HOMESCHOOL mom…that is on a whole other level). Freedom to be secure in who I am in Christ.The person He has made me. The giftings he has (or has not) given me.  Freedom from emotional eating.Enough said about that one. 🙂 Freedom to LOVE and PRAY deeply and fervently for the blessing of God in others lives, even when I  may see it withheld in my life. This can happen only when I am constantly trusting His love for me and my family, knowing that He is reigning rightly and justly and with love. Didn’t we just sing that song many times in December… “He rules the world with truth and grace and makes the nations prove the glories of His righteousness…and wonders of His love…”  

I am sure there are MANY other things that I need freedom from, and I am praying that the Lord will reveal those to me over time.

Father, I pray for anyone reading this and for myself….Lord, that we would experience the freedom from whatever hinders us in pursuing You. Help us to throw off these hindrances and the sin that so easily entangles, and to fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, our great High Priest, the Alpha and Omega, First and Last, Prince of Peace. More of You, less of me.

 

 

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Jesus is the light of the world

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One of our favorite family traditions this time of year is driving around listening to Christmas music and looking for houses with a ton of lights and decorations! Our boys love Christmas lights! (as do the adults) 🙂

Part of what we want to do other than just have a good time together, is to impress on them that Jesus is the light of the world. Just as these Christmas lights light up the streets and neighborhoods, Jesus brings light to the world, and even our own individual hearts and lives as we submit to him.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'” (John 8:12)

There are so many awesome verses in the Old Testament about light and how Jesus perfectly fulfills those! We just don’t have time to go over all of them but  one I want to point out- God speaking of the Messiah, His Chosen Servant:

I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open eyes that are blind, to bring out prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.” (Isaiah 42:7-8)

In order to look to Jesus as the light of the world we have to first  come to realize and admit that we have blind eyes, and that we are prisoners that sit in darkness. And that he is the only one with the key to release us.

We have no hope spiritually without Him- complete blindness- really a hopeless condition. But when he comes into our lives and brings his marvelous light, we are not only lit up ourselves with the truth of the gospel but are able to then BE light to others.  This is what’s amazing to me. We, a people once in darkness, are called to be, and equipped by Christ to now be a people of light.

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden…..in the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matt.5:16

We have a neat physical picture in nature of this spiritual truth. Think about why the moon shines. It is actually very dark, but only shines because it is a mirror that reflects the light of the Sun.  How amazing that our Creator has woven truths about Himself throughout His world! We, in ourselves, don’t have the capability to be light in our world unless we are reflecting the Son.

Lord, I pray that I would reflect you today. Please help me to be light to those around me. Help your church to reflect you well and bring You much glory. We want to make much of You, Jesus, the Light of the World.

Jesus is merciful and gracious

In thinking of what to write next about Jesus and who He is….I can’t get past the Samaritan woman at the well. I posted a little about her encounter with Jesus last time, but there are too many things here to just give this account one post!

A couple things I notice about Jesus from this passage of scripture:

1. Jesus went against the cultural norm to go to a people not usually liked by his own.

We see in John 4 is that Jesus was passing through Samaria on his way to Galilee from Judea. Samaria is smack dab in the middle of those two places, but strict Jews would typically go around Samaria even though it made for a longer trip because they believed the Samaritans to be unclean.  The Samaritans were a people of part Jewish and part Gentile ancestry.  Basically, most Jewish folks of that day had little to do with them. They were seen as “less than”.

But not to this Jewish man, Jesus. He was on a rescue mission.

2. Jesus went against the cultural norm and interacted with a Samaritan woman- and not the “holiest” one in  the town.

He stops in Samaria at the well about noon. (verse 6) I love that we see here that Jesus stopped at the well because he was “wearied from his journey”.   While he is there resting our Samaritan woman comes to draw water.  Now, we could just keep going in the story but we would miss something very important. Noon was not the typical time to be drawing water. Generally, women would come to draw water in the morning or evening when it was cooler. (see Genesis 24:11)  This was the heat of the day. Yet, this is when she comes out. She wants to come draw her water when no one else would likely be there. I’m sure the townspeople knew of her immoral life and she was the topic of discussion from time to time.  And she was not oblivious to that.

It was probably less painful to come when she could come, get her water, and leave without bearing all “the looks”.  Yet on this day, she has a divine appointment and doesn’t even know it.

3. There is more mercy in Christ than sin in us.

What strikes me is that THIS is the woman who Jesus decided to pursue. One who would probably rather hide from God. The one who had multiple husbands and was living with someone now who wasn’t her husband.  I can be like her sometimes. Though I know Christ and live a “moral life”, there are (many) days where I know I fail Him.  Well, pretty much everyday in some way. On those days that I am in disobedience or have a rotten attitude….I am not really prepared for Jesus to confront me in love. I don’t naturally run to him. I usually become prayerless. Worship does not flow from my heart.  Why? Because think that I have not “earned” his love on that day. I have no right to come to him. Yet we see the depth of the mercy and grace and forgiveness that he offers to us, and while it’s true that we have no merit on our own to come to him, he comes to us in that moment as he did this woman, and invites us to experience living water.

4. Jesus not only revealed himself to her, but to a whole town through her testimony.

“Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony…” John 4:39

They came to him and begged him to stay a few more days with them, and many more believed we are told in verse 41. A whole town changed! What dignity he restored to this broken woman! One who avoided interactions with others now ran to them to tell them of this wonderful Messiah, Jesus, that had come. And once they heard her testimony, and saw for themselves….we can’t know for sure, but I can’t imagine she drew water at noon anymore.

Jesus satisfies our souls

As most of you know I am married to a sweet man named Chris and we have three boys- Colin, Robson, and Davis. We are very content with our family being the size that it is. Our quiver is full and our wallets are empty! 🙂 So I was feeling good about that and just trying to manage the 3 “little blessings” that God has given to us. But as Davis has passed that 2 year old mark and is very clearly not in the baby stage anymore….and as I realized that we will likely not return to that stage ever again, I was not prepared for the sense of loss that I felt.

There is something so exciting and sweet about being pregnant and having a baby- a new addition to the family! Sweet little movements in your womb when you feel that baby kick and hiccup. Sweet cuddles with a little one that doesn’t talk back or pull away! And this got me to thinking…over the past 10 years since I graduated college, I have had a lot of exciting things happen- big life changes one after another…I have gone overseas twice, gotten engaged and married, had 3 babies, 2 houses and a few job changes sprinkled in there.

So now that those things are in my past and we are sorta “in the trenches” of child rearing and discipline….I found myself asking what exciting thing is next?! Cause this is sorta boring. 🙂 And Jesus reminded me that HE is the excitement and delight that my heart longs for. He is the only real solution to longings and pain and everything that we search after but can’t find.

I thought about the woman at the well of John 4. When she met up with Jesus she had had 5 husbands and the man she was living with now was not even her husband. (John 4:18) I think it’s safe to say that this woman had some unmet emotional longings. She was searching for something that she had not found yet. There was an incompleteness to her soul. Much like you and I have, if we are honest. It looks different for everyone, but we all have them. And if we are searching for things here and now to fill those, we will look and look and look and we might find things or people that temporarily pacify those empty spaces, but none will satisfy like Jesus.

He offered her, and ultimately us as well, living water. He says, ” everyone who drinks this water (temporal) will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him (eternal) will never be thirsty again…” John 4:13-14

I don’t know about you but I want that water. He is telling us that it is possible for a person’s deep longings to be filled by Him when we submit to His lordship and follow Him. I know that he does not promise that we will never feel longings for things here on this earth and I am not saying it’s wrong to have those. But ultimately, He is the only one capable of eternally delighting our souls and placing joy unspeakable in us. I want that!

Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Psalm 73:25-26

 

 

To be re-amazed

As I look ahead to December, the Christmas season, I want to take a journey and invite you to come along with me.  Maybe no one else will even read this because I know I have not been very consistent about posting lately! But that is alright- really, this is a journey that I want to take, and it’s just bonus if anyone else ventures with me.

Yesterday I was thinking about certain portions of scripture that mention and give us insight into who Jesus is. It prompted me to think about the fact that though I have been a Christian- a Christ follower- for about 13 years now, sometimes we just need to be re-amazed at and reminded of who He is. Or perhaps some of you have never experienced that amazement at Jesus and this could be something new….finding out who He is.

This is the man who was invited to weddings, invited into the homes of “sinners” and hung out with them, gave great dignity to women he encountered, had children drawn to him (and us parents know that kids don’t just flock to anyone!), had crowds press in on him just to hear his teaching, calmed storms, healed lepers (those who no one else even wanted to be around or touch)….and so many more things.

I want to take a closer, deeper, more concentrated look at who Jesus is, and what better time of year?! I know that He won’t disappoint. One scripture that I love is in John 21:25. At the end of this gospel, John tries to find a way to sum up all that he has said and  the man that he has spent 21 chapters telling us about.  I love this:

“Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that could be written.”

It speaks to me that Jesus is infinitely greater than we can imagine or fully know right now. But, we know that God has given us enough in His word to know Christ and to know that he is the one through whom we have eternal life. Back up a few verses from the one above and John says this:

“Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” John 20:30-31

Join me as we take a closer look and remind ourselves of who Christ is, and allow our hearts to be drawn to him in a fresh way!

 

Our upcoming school year

It’s one of the most popular questions among home-schoolers (or those who are considering)- “What curriculum do you use?”. So, I decided to write a post listing our choices for this year. Of course this is subject to change, but for now, this is what we are doing:

Five In A Row– This is an over-arching curriculum that covers Social Studies, Literature, Art, Science. You read a book 5 days in a row and pick activities to do that are suggested in a manual. We are also using the Bible/Character manual that goes along with it. All 3 boys (but especially Robson and Colin) will be involved in this.

Math-U-See- Colin only

All About Spelling– Spelling/phonics/reading- Robson and Colin will both do this.

Handwriting Without Tears– Robson and Colin

There you have it, folks. 🙂

 

Prayer Journal, Part 2

Continuing with the sections of the prayer journal (if you missed the first part, go back one post)…..the next section is:

Confession: “If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:8-9

In my years as a believer, I don’t think I would have ever said that I had no sin. But, truthfully, that is sorta how I walked out this confession thing! Confession was not part of my daily prayer time with the Lord and now, looking back, I think that was harmful to my spiritual growth.

Of course God is gracious to me, and I am righteous in His sight because of the blood of Christ that covers me, but I was missing out on something deeper by not sitting quietly before Him and asking Him to reveal to me sins that need attention. And I love how gently and lovingly the Lord does that.

What’s nice about this section is being able to look back and see areas of victory – places that Jesus has gained ground in my heart and helped me to overcome. Also, leaving this time of prayer free of guilt!  Times of refreshing come following confession.

The next section is another one that has been instrumental in giving my prayer times the “meat” I feel they lacked.

Renewal: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind…” Rom.12:2

This is where I take a verse that either the Lord has brought to mind or that has stuck out to me from my daily bible reading and write it down and pray through it. Today’s verse was:

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it’s the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” Proverbs 19:21

This is a great section to record things that you are learning from your times in the Word, then be able to look back and remember those lessons!

The last section I will discuss in this post is:

Listening: “Be still and know that I am God.” Ps. 46:10

Here is where you listen to the Lord and write down what he may be sharing with you through your prayer time- things that He is prompting you to do…make that call, write that note of encouragement, share the gospel with___, join that prayer group….etc.

Ok….thanks for hanging in there….final part to come in the next day or so! Let’s seek Him!