Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Through It All

As I wrote about way back in January, my word for 2014 is trust.

It's amazing when I consider the many situations in which I've found myself needing to trust God this year.  There have been "big" ones, like my husband's back surgery and our 8th grader returning to school this week.  (I've been praying throughout the day and trusting God to bless her.  I remind myself that He loves her even more than I do.  While I would wish a rosy path for her, I know that we usually learn more when we encounter struggles.  I don't want her to be weak in her faith, but to grow.)

There have been plenty of those small, daily challenges in which I'm trying to learn to trust God also.  He is faithful to give me opportunities to develop that trust!  Studying God's Word and planting His promises in my heart and mind are the best ways I'm finding to continue to grow in this area.

The words of this song remind me that it's often through trials that we truly learn to trust our Lord.

I’ve had many tears and sorrows,
I’ve had questions for tomorrow,
there’ve been times I didn’t know right from wrong.
But in every situation,
God gave blessed consolation,
that my trials come to only make me strong.

Through it all, through it all,
I’ve learned to trust in Jesus,
I’ve learned to trust in God.

Through it all, through it all,
I’ve learned to depend upon His Word.

I thank God for the mountains,
and I thank Him for the valleys,
I thank Him for the storms He brought me through.
For if I’d never had a problem,
I wouldn’t know that He could solve them,
I’d never know what faith in God could do.

Through it all, through it all,
I’ve learned to trust in Jesus,
I’ve learned to trust in God.

Through it all, through it all,
I’ve learned to depend upon His Word.

 ~Andrae Crouch

May the rest of 2014 find us continuing to trust God through the "ups and downs" of life!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Releasing Yourself from the Comparison Trap

"....Pride is essentially competitive-is competitive by its very nature....Pride gets no pleasure out of something, only out of having more of it than the next man....It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone." ~C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity

Oh my, do I ever struggle with pride, especially in making comparisons.  And it's not just in relation to myself; I find that I often compare my children and their traits or accomplishments to others their age.  Are my girls smarter, better dressed, more respectful, have more friends, excel at playing the piano - doesn't the list go on and on?!!  It's so easy to fall into the comparison trap.

Pride may even take on a spiritual dimension.  Perhaps I'm proud of my children's good behavior or their participation in church activities.  I might be proud that I have my devotions daily or that I took the opportunity to serve someone when others didn't or that the lesson I taught in children's church was well received.

Lately, when I've found pride trying to creep in like usual, I'm trying to redirect my thoughts in two ways:  by quoting Scripture and by consciously being grateful.

Since the Bible says much about pride, it's easy to find verses to memorize that help me fight against it. 
"Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD:  though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished." Proverbs 16:5

"....for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble." I Peter 5:5

"When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom." Proverbs 11:2
In being grateful, my goal is to turn my focus off of myself and onto Christ.  If I'm alone, I can say something like the following aloud:  "God, thank you that you are faithful in helping me have my devotions each morning.  Thank you that I have the physical strength to get out of bed and have time to spend in your Word."  Or, "Thank you that in your providence you gave our daughter the ability to learn quickly.  May she use this gift to bring honor and glory to You and to help others."

Cultivating gratitude also promotes contentment, which removes the competitive nature and the need to have "more than" someone else.  Being content with where God has placed me and what He has given me allows me to rejoice - not only in what I have, but in how He blesses others.

Pride can creep into my life so stealthily and quickly.  I need the Holy Spirit's help to see it and get rid of it lest it take root and grow.

How do you handle pride?  Do you find yourself falling into the trap of comparison?

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Saturday Salutes

Roan gives us 10 Ways to Make Your Homeschool Day Run Smoothly.

Christy has a neat way to plan your meals ahead of time with Bags to Dishes.

Katy shares 10 Tips to Get Better Photos of Your Children.

Tammy's recipe for Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Coffee Frozen Pudding sounds delicious!  I'm not a fan of sugar free pudding, so I'll be using the real deal when I make this.

I found a couple of cute fall outfits on Pinterest this week.

Red cardigan, black and white striped shirt, and cheetah scarf...FALL TIME

Wouldn't wear the socks, but otherwise - love!  "Untitled #75" by aaronjillthomas ❤ liked on Polyvore

I'll be picking up a few last minute school supplies today as well as planning out our meals for the coming week.  Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, August 15, 2014

5 Ways to Prepare My Heart for Back to School

So for us, Monday is the big day!  Our 8th grader will be heading back to the Christian school she attended several years ago while I continue to homeschool our 6th grader.

Photo Source

I can't say that I'm ready for summer to be over, though I do love the routine and predictable schedule of the school year.  With just a couple of days before school starts, I'm focusing on five ways I can prepare my heart for this back-to-school season.

1.  Pray for my children.  Not long ago, I mentioned how I'm writing out prayers for our daughters for specific times in their lives.  With our oldest daughter returning to school this fall after three years of homeschooling, I've been praying these thoughts for her for the last month or more.
Dear God, I pray that her transition back to school will be a smooth one.  Please help her find a group of friends who love You and who will be a help to her in her Christian walk.  Guard her from wrong influences.  Shield her eyes and close her ears to evil. 
Give her discernment; help her to make good decisions and wise choices.  Grant her courage to stand for right.  Protect her physically.  Keep her mind sharp so she may learn. 
Open up opportunities for service and personal growth.  Let her teachers be wise in all they do.  Most of all, draw her close to You and teach her to lean on You for strength each day.
2.  Prepare a routine.  We'll actually have two routines this year with the different schooling methods, so I'll be getting one daughter out the door while making sure the other has what she needs to get her school day started at home.  We'll also have to schedule in time for piano practice, homework, after school activities, etc.

3.  Plan ahead.  This is what I'll be working on this weekend!  I'm making lists of breakfast and lunch items I need to have on hand, deciding what nights that I need to serve slow cooker or very simple meals, making a final list of school supplies, etc.

4.  Focus on what really matters.  The most important goals for our family this school year are that, as individuals and as a unit, we come to love God and serve others more, and that we maintain our closeness as a family.  I don't want to get so wrapped up in school-related activities that we miss what really counts.

5.  Live in this day's moments.  It's often said, but easily forgotten for me!  As much as I don't want to think about it, I only have five more "first day of school's" before our oldest is off to college.  I want to enjoy and celebrate these days with my precious girls!

Have your children started school yet?  How have you been preparing for the transition from summer to school?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Do the Next Thing

Whether your days in this season are full of "busy-ness" (like mine of late!) or quietness, suffering or uncertainty, the words in the following poem give us sound advice to follow.

I read these words in The Shaping of a Christian Family by Elisabeth Elliot.  This poem, author unknown, was found copied in a notebook belonging to her mother.

From an old English parsonage down by the sea
There came in the twilight a message to me;
Its quaint Saxon legend, deeply engraven,
Hath, it seems to me, teaching from Heaven.
And on through the hours the quiet words ring
Like a low inspiration: "DOE THE NEXTE THYNGE."

Many a questioning, many a fear,
Many a doubt, hath its quieting here.
Moment by moment, let down from Heaven,
Time, opportunity, guidance, are given.
Fear not tomorrows, child of the King,
Trust them with Jesus, doe the nexte thynge.

Do it immediately, do it with prayers;
Do it reliantly, casting all care;
Do it with reverence, tracing His hand
Who placed it before thee with earnest command.
Stayed on Omnipotence, safe 'neath His wing,
Leave all resulting, doe the nexte thynge.

Looking to Jesus, ever serener,
Working or suffering, be thy demeanor;
In His dear presence, the rest of His calm,
The light of His countenance be thy psalm,
Strong in His faithfulness, praise and sing.
Then as He beckons thee, doe the nexte thynge.

Whatever challenges we face today, let's trust Jesus' leading and do the next thing!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Saturday Salutes

My younger daughter and my cousin's younger daughter in the Christmas area at Yankee Candle Village in Williamsburg, VA

Kara has 10 Ways to Help Your Child Build Friendships.

Jamie wrote a post on Prayers for Parenting and Homeschooling that is perfect for this time of year.

Candace shares 10 Ideas for Celebrating Back to School.

I'm thinking I'll try this Healthier Chocolate Coffee Cake for breakfast one morning next week.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, August 8, 2014

We Did It! A Fabric Headboard

So here's what we (a.k.a. my husband :) did last weekend.

We upgraded from a queen-sized to a king-sized mattress several months ago.  I knew that I wanted a fabric-covered headboard and we decided that our cheapest option was to make it ourselves.  Last week, I finally went shopping for the fabric.

On Saturday, my husband cut a piece of plywood into the shape I wanted, then used spray adhesive to attach 1 1/2 inch foam that we'd cut to the same shape.  We then wrapped it with quilt batting, stapling it to the back of the plywood, and followed that by stapling the fabric tightly over it.  He attached it to the wall with a metal cleat.

This was a quick and inexpensive project! We'd sold our queen-sized headboard and footboard on Craigslist for $130 and I'd set that money aside to go toward this project. Thanks to a 40% off coupon from Joann's, I was able to get a good deal on the upholstery fabric, and the whole project only cost $160, so only $30 out-of-pocket.

Have you tackled any DIY projects lately?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Don't Spend It All On Your Motel Room

"Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." ~Matthew 6:19-21

Those verses were illustrated to me in a new way recently in John Ortberg's book When the Game is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box.  Here's an excerpt.
"Let's say you spend a week at Motel 6.  How likely would it be for you to take all your money and spend it decorating your motel room? How probable is it that you would clean out your bank account to purchase van Goghs or paintings of Elvis on velvet or whatever it is that your taste runs to?

Not very. You wouldn't even be tempted because the hotel room is not home. You're only going to be there a little while.  It would be foolish to waste the treasure of your one and only life on a temporary residence...So Jesus says it is wise to store up treasure in what's eternal:  God and people.

This is Motel 6.  Your 'room' - your home and furniture and clothes and possessions - will last the equivalent of a few seconds compared to the eternity that will be occupied by your soul. It's not bad to stay in a place and enjoy it while you're there.  But Jesus says don't store up treasure in Motel 6.  It's not home.  You're only going to be here a little while.  If you're going to stay up nights dreaming, dream about something better than how to upgrade your motel room."
How I need to be reminded that the time I spend getting to know God - through prayer and His Word - and the love I show to others are what will last forever!