Good Example

Recently I went to a meeting for church with my three elementary age kids. They had childcare but it was for children five and under. With a busy bag by our side we came prepared. Not long into the meeting my kids were asked if they wanted to be helpers in the child room. I was glad they were able to escape the meeting. It would’ve been pretty boring for them.

When I picked up my kids one of the ladies told me my daughter said she wasn’t sure what she was supposed to do to help. The lady told her that sometimes just being a good example is enough. At that moment those words profoundly reasonated in my heart.

I often feel like my daughter did. I say, “Lord, what am I supposed to do to help. To help spread your Word, to help other people, etc…? I feel like I’m doing nothing. I’m just living life.” But right there is the key, I’m living life. I’m doing my best to live my life for the Lord. To be a good wife, mother and daughter of the King of Kings. I need to not underestimate how valuable setting a good example is. I just need to relax and know that setting a good example – to my children, to my friends, to the world around me – is enough.

Jesus showed us a good example and we are reminded in I Peter 2:21 to follow his example. “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.” And in Titus 2:7 it says, “In everything set them an example by doing what is good.”

Many times setting a good example is enough and those times when it’s not I’m sure the Lord will be faithful to tell me.

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Homemade Christmas

People who know my husband and I well know we don’t have much money. It’s been that way all our married life. My husband’s jobs have been lowing paying, so we are doing well to make ends meet. Don’t get me wrong, the Lord takes care of us. We have our basic needs met but we have very little, if anything, for extras. So when Christmas rolls around each year all we have to say is, “Okay kids, you know the drill about Christmas.” They all nod as we continue, “We’ll do the best we can to get you gifts but we might not be able to get much at all.” Then we go in our spiel about how it’s not about the gifts anyway. Our kids are so used to it by now they roll pretty well with it. Of course I’d love to buy so much for our kids and my husband but that’s not always possible, not if we want to stay in our budget.

Yet through the years God has come through in some pretty amazing ways. People have bought us gifts anonymously, we’ve been given money – sometimes we knew who gave to us but sometimes we didn’t. We’ve had unexpected bonuses given to my husband. Then we-by we I mean my husband- would make a mad dash to the store with a ton of other last minute shoppers to buy presents. I’d love to tell all the stories of how the Lord has provided throughout the years but I don’t have time for that now. Those blessings have certainly increased my faith though and shown to me how faithful and loving our God is.

Since the kids don’t have access to much money we encourage them to make something for each other. Last year we stepped the presents up a notch. By stepping it up I mean the creativity and time put into the gift. Even my husband and I made gifts for each of the kids and each other. We bought one store bought gift for each child and the rest was homemade. I wasn’t sure how the gifts were going to turn out but I wanted to make the best of it. We took the month of December off from homeschooling with text books and planned and worked on projects instead. All projects had to be approved by either dad or I and I didn’t want to have to spend much, if anything, on materials. That would kind of defeat our purpose. I like doing crafts so I have a lot of supplies on hand, we just needed to add our imagination. Of course we had some inspiration from Pinterest.

We used three basic materials; fabric, canvas, and cardboard. I was in charge of the fabric projects because they had to do with sewing. We don’t have a sewing machine so all our sewing projects were done by hand. I’m sure it would be easier if you have a machine. The girls both received a flower pillow. I thought the butterfly was a nice touch from my older daughter.

My son got a Lego head pillow from his sister and a puppy stuffed animal from his other sister. She included a small container with a label that says “Spot’s food” on it. It’s actually a small spice container.

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My youngest son got a pteranodon jacket from his sister. We bought a green jacket that was on sale (I’m sure you could find one at Goodwill) and we sewed fabric pieces to make it look like wings. She had done something similar for him a couple years ago with a red jacket and sewed blue half circles filled with pillow fluff along the back to look like a dinosaur. He loved it but has outgrown that one.2016_12_29_12_12

On my next projects I got to do some painting. That was fun. I rarely have time to do things like this so I really enjoyed it. For my boys I made these canvases. I used tape to get the stripe effect. Then I hot glued buttons on to form the letter.

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For my oldest daughter I gave her a mirror with her name at the top and words along the sides that remind her of how the Lord sees here. I typed out verses that go along with the words. She hung those above her mirror. This way she’ll remember the truth God’s Word speaks over her and not the lies the mirror tries to tell us all, especially women. I wrote more about this in a post called “Do you see what I see” last December. https://shiningtheloveofjesus.wordpress.com/2016/12/16/do-you-see-what-i-see/

Mirror Edit

For this project my son and I painted some glass rocks you use for flower vases and hot glued them on a canvas. P1050243

Here’s a fun picture of the gift I made for my husband. He loves candy so much he says he has sweet teeth. So I made him this candy jar. 2016_12_24_11_49

Next are the cardboard projects. My husband was in charge of these. It’s amazing what that man can make with cardboard. Our son is a big Snoppy and Charlie Brown fan so my husband made him an airplane that Snoppy can fit in. It’s really large but really cool.

It’s 3 feet long with a wing span of about 29 inches. When he isn’t using it we hang it on the wall using shelf brackets. P1050244

For our daughter he made her a doll house out of cardboard big enough for Barbie dolls or Strawberry Shortcake dolls. The beds were made for her by her brother using leftover pieces of insulation foam. We painted them and dressed them up with scrapbook embellishments. The mattress is cushion padding covered with fabric.

 

A similar gift was a Hot Wheels parking garage for our youngest son.

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A super cool gift was this cardboard bird my husband made for my oldest daughter. When you lightly pull the chain below the bird, it moves up and down as if it were flying. It fit in well with their tropical room.

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The projects turned out well. It was fun to see what everyone made each other. An added bonus was my kids learned to sew and some learned to use a small saw, with the supervision of dad of course. We may not have been textbook learning but they were definitely learning and also learning to think of others. I’m sure we’ll remember our homemade Christmas for a long time to come.

Stories through Genesis (part one)

p1040420I mentioned to my kids one day that many of the great Old Testament stories of the Bible are in Genesis. They looked at me like this was an amazing fact they’ve never heard. “Really?” They said. All they remember about Genesis is the story of Creation and Adam and Eve. The Lord had already been stirring my heart to go through the stories of Genesis with my kids and in this moment I KNEW I needed to.

Genesis holds the foundational stories for our Christian faith. It’s a good book to use to introduce kids (and anyone really) to the Bible and Christianity. I love going through this with my kids. It’s helped me look deeper into these stories instead of just reading them with little thought because I’m so familiar with them. It builds up my faith as I see the constant theme of the Lord’s faithfulness.

My kids have been in church pretty much since they were born. They’ve heard the Bible stories from church as well as me reading to them. I noticed that I mainly read to them out of children’s devotionals or children’s Bible story books. That’s a great start but I wanted them to hear it straight from the Bible. There are pieces most children’s books leave out. Some for good reason. Prayerfully I went to the Lord to find out which sections to leave in and which to skip over. Also, how do I keep the attention of four kids with an age range of 6 – 14? Of course the Lord was again faithful as He guided me.

So here’s a snapshot of how this looks for us. I give each of my children a pencil, eraser and their own notebook. We pray. I tell them the section I will be reading from and write it on the board. I encourage them to take notes which can either be what I write on the board, pictures they draw p1040384(only pertaining to the story that day), or what they were inspired to write down. I read to them the section for the day. If it’s a larger section I will take breaks and talk about it as I go. If it’s a shorter story, I read the whole thing at once then discuss. Beforehand the kids know we are looking to answer three questions so they can be thinking about them as I read. The three questions are:

#1 What is the story about? Here we are discussing the facts of the story. I then write the facts on the board in an easily worded form so they can writep1040377 it down and read what they wrote later.

#2 What can we learn from this story? Here we discuss how we can use what we learn in our life. I also write this on the board.

#3 Is God speaking something to me personally through this story? This gives them a chance to listen to the Lord and learn to hear His voice. They have the option of sharing that with everyone or keeping it to themselves.

Because it’s such a large age range I try to keep things interesting. Every day we do notes but some days we will act it out like a skit and I take turns with who gets to help me. I also have A Beka Bible flash-a-cards I use to help illustrate if I have the ones for the story that day. At other times I turn to Pinterest to find some coloring pages and have them color a picture that p1040424goes with our story that day. Using this combination helps keep the kids engaged. Let’s be real, they’re kids, so it doesn’t always work but it helps to have a few different approaches up my sleeve. Always, ALWAYS I have to remember to lean into the Holy Spirit to give me ideas to help them understand and keep their wheels turning. Of course that’s true for parenting, not just Bible class.

I encourage you to take your time. Don’t rush through. Answer all their questions or help them find the answers. Take time to explore the Word with them. If you sense it’s getting lengthy for them, save the rest for another day.

Here’s how I’ve broken down the stories in Genesis. This is may or may not work for your family (or class). Use what you can. There are some stories that are more difficult for kids. Like explaining a covenant or circumcision or Sarai giving Abram her maidservant. Always ask for the Lord’s direction. He’ll guide you how to present it in the way your child (or class) will understand.

I skipped creation and the fall of man with my kids because I went through it with them a few years ago and am planning on going through it with them again in the fall. We have only done half of Genesis so far. I plan on doing a part two to this to show how the other half was broken down.

Stories:

Cain & Abel                                  4:1-16p1040425

The Flood                                      5-9

Tower of Babel                             11

The Call of Abram                       12:1-9

Abram & Lot part                        13

God’s covenant with Abram     15:1-7

Hagar & Ishmael                         16

Reinstatement of Covenant      17:1-18:15

Sodom & Gomorrah                    18:20-21, 19:1-7, 9-29

Birth of Isaac                                21:1-20

Abraham Tested                           22:1-19

Isaac & Rebekah                          (23:1), 24:1-34, 50-66

Hopefully this has given you some ideas to teach your kids about the Bible.

Do you see what I see?

p1030900For Christmas this year I made each of my children a gift. For my teenage daughter I made a gift inspired by something I saw at my church’s fall women’s retreat.

At retreat there was a room you could go into with different tables set up. Each station had a way for you to go deeper with the Lord. At one of these stations you were to think of a lie you’ve been believing about yourself. Then you would write it on a small piece of paper and nail it to a cross. The other end of the table had a full length mirror. You were to take a marker and write on the mirror a truth of how God sees you – which would be the opposite of the lie you just nailed to the cross. In this way we were nailing lies we’ve come to believe to the cross and renewing our minds with God’s truth about us.

God used this exercise as a powerful tool for me. By the time I had got to the stations most of the women at retreat had already gone through. The mirror was full of revelations of how God sees these beautiful ladies. Soimg_20160910_134600 much more than the messages we hear about ourselves from T.V., magazines, and a gamut of other places. These women were beginning to see themselves as their Heavenly Father sees them.

I also noticed the things they wrote are things I struggle with too. All to often I feel alone in my challenges of life but we really are very alike. Each with her own story and perspective but our struggles are often the same. No wonder the enemy wants to keeps us isolated on our own island. When we do that we can’t encourage or sharpen each other.

The mirror made such an impact on me. I couldn’t get it off my mind. “Wouldn’t that be great,” I thought to myself, “if we would see these revelations of how the Lord sees us on a daily basis and have scripture to back them up.” That way when the enemy comes at us trying to chain us down with labels that aren’t true or with the past, that we’ve been redeemed from, the words of God will flow from our lips and our hearts would stay secure in our identity in Christ.

I began to think about my daughters and how my prayer for them is to have these truths in their foundation at a young age. What a shame that so many women wait so many years before discovering these truths. I was one of them. I want more for my girls. Though I know they will still have struggles to face my prayer is they can do so with a more solid foundation.

That’s when I saw it in my mind. I saw a mirror with my daughter’s name at the top. Around the rest of the frame were words of how God sees her. Along with it I would give a piece of paper with verses that match the words on the mirror. For example, one of the words is loved with Jeremiah 31:3 for a matching scripture. “I have loved you with an everlasting love.”

In this way every time my daughter sees herself in the mirror, instead of hearing some ugly lie about herself she will see these truths framing her. Speaking words of life over her. Speaking truth to her. She can recall the verses and know these are much more than words on a mirror. They are the very truths of God.

Begin your own journey of discovery of who God says you are. Ask Him how He sees you. Listen for His voice and write down what He says. Memorize the verses He shows you and hold them close to your heart. I pray you see what God sees in you. May any lies you’ve believed melt away as God’s words fill your heart.

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Homeschooling through the stress

nov-treeI don’t know about you other homeschooling mamas but this mama is getting tired, and quite frankly, a bit stressed. I’m realizing our halfway point for school is drawing ever closer and I’m looking at the books to see if the bookmarks are at the halfway point…Nope! Yikes!! STRESS!!! …Breathe mama, breathe. It’s going to be okay. Really! It is.

I’m a check-it-off my list type of person. Stay on schedule. Stay on target. I hate feeling behind. Homeschooling has certainly taught me to go with the flow much better because, let’s face it, things don’t always go the way we plan. I’ve learned to be flexible but I’ve also learned that in order to get done what needs to get done we have to say no to many things. I have to stay disciplined and committed to what is truly important. Discipline can be exhausting though. I feel as if I have to hold it all together because I am holding everyone else together. Being a mom and homeschooling my kids is an important job. One that is an honor to be doing but let’s be honest, sometimes, I just need to let go.

Just relax.

Just breathe…

Stop. Remain quiet and breathe.

About a year ago I had a dream I was pilot of a large luxury spacecraft taking people on a long journey. I could feel the weight of the task I had to carry on my shoulders. The people aboard were family and friends I loved. This was a big responsibility but an honorable one.

There was a war going on in space. The battle was taxing. There was space debris to maneuver through. It was a hard journey and it was my job to make sure everyone made it to their destination safely.

That’s exactly how my life feels. Being a wife and mother is an important and honorable job. One I’m so thankful I get the privilege of doing. The Lord has entrusted my husband and I with the lives of our children and we will do our best to guide and direct them in the ways of the Lord. To instill in them a solid foundation. We are truly in a battle, a spiritual war.

There’s so much to teach the kids that I just get overwhelmed at times. That’s when I need check and see if I’ve been relying on God’s strength or trying to do it on my own. I start out on God’s strength but somewhere a shift happens and I start using my own strength instead. That’s a sure recipe for getting tired fast. I must rely on God’s strength. I must rely on Him to be the air under my wings that carries me through. When I lean on Him I can soar to new heights.

There also needs to be times of rest. Times of refreshing. Times where I do nothing but soak in His unfailing love and rest in the confidence that God’s got this. He is faithful and He is kind and I can trust Him.

I’ve heard that November and February are the months that are the toughest for homeschoolers. I can certainly see truth in that. So if you’re like me and have been feeling overwhelmed, relax. Take a day off if you need to. Take a week off if you need to. It’s not about how much we can cram into our kids. We need to be sure to preserve the parent child relationship and our sanity. Do your best and let God do the rest.

Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit says the Lord Almighty. Zechariah 4:6

Feeling Blessed

p1030826There is a big world out there. There are many different cultures, languages, food, clothes, religions, governments and ways of life. I want my children to catch a glimpse of this bigger world we live in. I want my children to understand God loves every people, tribe and nation. He not only loves every one of them but wants them to live in the victory Christ gave us at the cross. I want them to see there are differences but there are also similarities of all peoples around the world. I want to equip my children to be world changers.

This year I decided to fill a shoebox with my kids for Operation Christmas Child. I took the kids to the OCC website and showed them all about this ministry. I’ve participated in filling shoeboxes before when I was in MOPS but have never done it on my own. It’s been a great experience so far. It’s a great way for the kids to get involved in helping someone in another country. (If you are interested it’s not to late for you to fill a shoebox. Collection week is the week of Nov. 14-21. You can go to www.samaritanspurse.org/what-we-do/operation-christmas-child/ for more information.)

I’ve also been reading my kids a book called “Adventures in Other Lands” p1030832for Bible class. It has short stories about children who live in faraway lands whose lives were touched by a missionary. It’s put out by A Beka Books and is supposed to be used as part of their reading program. I am using a different reading program for my kids but wanted to read this book to open their eyes to other places around the world. Boy has it ever! It has also effected me.

I feel so blessed to live in the United States. Sure we have issues that need to be dealt with, but I am so thankful for the freedoms we have. Freedom to worship the way we think is right. Freedom to homeschool. Freedom to write this blog. Freedom to vote. Freedom to live and work where we want. Freedom to own things. May we never take our freedoms for granted but use them to glorify the Lord.

I’m not a materialistic person but I am thankful for the material possessions we have. I am also not a rich person but here in the U.S. we are blessed with so much. I am so thankful for our home, for our appliances and electricity, for clean water. I’m thankful that my kids have toys, blankets, school books, and school and art supplies. In this country we are blessed to have access to so many wonderful Christian resources. I’m thankful to have clothes and food and that if we are in need of these things there are places we can go to for help. I’m thankful for internet access. The list could go on and on.

Reading these stories to my children was a great reminder for me to stop worrying about the things we are in need of and be thankful for what we do have. A reminder that God is bigger than any problem I have. His faithfulness reaches to the ends of the Earth. He will never forget us. He will never leave us. His love is everlasting.

Just when I was beginning to worry about money, the Lord gave me these stories as a gentle reminder to be thankful. My hope is this can remind you to be thankful too.

Let all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things he does for me.

Psalm 103:2

A Picture of Trust

pic-of-trust10302016As a newborn my daughter didn’t like to wake up for her feedings. She would be content to sleep all day. I had to wake her so she would eat. Which was not easy. I would pick her up so she was facing me. I would talk to her, blow on her face or make weird sounds in attempts to wake her. She would continue to sleep with her little arms flopped out to the sides. She looked so peaceful, as though she didn’t have a care in the world. A perfect picture of contentment and trust.

I would like to be like that with my Heavenly Father. Trusting Him so much that I could rest all my cares into His hands. Trusting completely the One who is holding me. So much that all my fears, all my worries just melt away. And here, completely surrendered to the One that holds me, all I feel is peace. Perfect peace that is not contingent upon what is going on around me. Peace that is not based on the amount of money in my bank account or on any situation that may be on the horizon. But trusting that the One who holds me loves me more than I can fathom and has my best interest at heart.

…Though the mountains be shaken and the hills removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed, will not be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you. Isaiah 54:10

I do no need to be shaken when the world around me rises up in upheavals that come from a broken world. I do not need to be anxious about what politician stands in what office because Jesus is King of all and He is still in control. I do not need to be concerned when I am short on food, money or time. Heaven never experiences famine. My Father not only owns the cattle on a thousand hills but he can multiply my food and have it brought to me by ravens if He wants. I do not need to worry about relationships that are difficult but I need to trust the Lord and lay it all at His feet. I don’t have the answer to all these situations or life’s difficulties but I know that the Lord does and I know He told me not to worry or be anxious about anything. He told me to trust Him and not to fear. So before I let anxiousness steal one more good night’s rest from me, I will choose to be like that little child that rests in hands of the One who loves her so much.

Be still and know that I am God…

Psalm 46:10

The Lion and the Bees

Spring is one of my favorite times of the year. I love watching the grass and trees turn green. The flowers bring pops of color among the now green lawns. It seems everything springs to life again. This winter seemed much longer than most winters, so the beauty and warmth of spring was that much more welcomed. Since we spent so much time indoors from this very frigid winter, I was sure to take the kids outside as soon as it was warm enough for me. They were excited to play outside, that is until they saw a bee (or a wasp—either way it had a stinger and that’s all my kids cared about). Suddenly my girls wanted to go back inside. This happened several days in a row and I was getting quite tired of their fear of bees. I wanted us all to be outside enjoying the weather.

One afternoon we were outside and the neighbor girl had come over to play. My daughter and the neighbor girl were discussing how much they disliked bees. One said, “I’d rather be chased by a lion than a bee.” The other replied, “Yeah, I think we could outrun the lion on our bike.” I thought to myself, I can’t believe I’m hearing this. I know they are only eight and eleven years old, but they are either giving way too much credit to the bee or they don’t realize how dangerous a lion can be. It made me think about how we, as parents, need to be sure we are giving our children the correct perspective on the dangers of life.

There were times in the Bible when the people of God neglected to tell the next generation about the Lord. They didn’t tell of His glory or His laws. As a result, people didn’t know how to treat each other. They turned from the Lord and consistently were turned over to the hands of their enemies. We, too, need to be sure to teach our children the ways of the Lord and to warn them of the dangers of sin. Some sin may feel like a bee sting. Others have consequences more like that of a hungry lion. We don’t want to buy into the lie that we are playing with a kitten, when in fact it’s a lion. The world has a way of disguising things to look more innocent than they are. Their true light often doesn’t show until it’s too late. That’s why it’s important to tell our children the difference. I would go one step further and not just teach them to stay away from harmful things, but show them the way to live a fruitful life that is set apart from the ways of the world. Not just tell them to stay clear of danger, but take the higher path that is blessed with life.

I was trying to teach my kids not to be afraid of the bees, but every time I went outside with my kids to play there was a wasp (or bee) every few feet. It’s not that the air was thick with them, but every few feet there was one somewhere. It was ridiculous. We couldn’t even go out to swing. So my husband went outside to be our brave hero armed with a can of wasp spray. He was surprised to find more than six nests. They like the overhang of our house. Our brave warrior even had to buy more spray because he went through the can and still hadn’t gotten them all.

I began to think of the parallel I made earlier in a different light. My kids need to be made aware of the dangers of life because we don’t know where life will take them. However, the chances are slim to none that my kids will ever see a roaming lion in our neighborhood. On the other hand, wasps and bees are very common around here. To me, those pesky stinger flying fellows are like the things in our life that cause small problems. A new phrase I keep hearing is “respectable sins”—things like gossip, little lies (is there really such a thing), complaining, etc… Things that seem so trivial to us that we let slide into our lives. Yet, they are things the Lord doesn’t want for us because they don’t have our best interest at heart. When you let those things pile up, you can get swarms of pests settling themselves around you, increasing your fear and chances of getting stung. Letting one small seed of bitterness stay in your heart results in poison to your soul. Complaining leads to negativity and shifts your attitude towards everything in life. This is not God’s way for us. While we need to differentiate between the lion and the bee, we also need to be sure we are keeping our hearts clear of things that would be poisonous to our hearts.

As for us, our hero bought more spray and took care of our pesky problem. What a joy it is to play outside without fear of getting stung.

Teach them his decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave. Exodus 18:20 (NIV)

These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Deuteronomy 6:6-7 (NIV)

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord. Ephesians 6:4 (NLT)

Fear Not My Child

The kids have been wanting a pet for years. That is with the exception of my youngest son. He’s afraid of animals. My mom has Shih Tzus and he’s been afraid of those since he could walk. He’s been doing better with them lately and I thought maybe he’d outgrown his fear. So we decided to go to the animal shelter to see what they had. The three kids wanted a pet were forewarned that we were just looking. We had to be sure dad’s allergies weren’t going to bother him and that their little brother would be okay with having a cat.

Our intentions were to see if they had a certain breed of cat that is better for people with allergies. That breed wasn’t there but we saw a kitten and of course we fell in love with it. We went home, and after some discussion, my husband and I decided to give the kitten a chance. Our animal shelter has a great program that allows you to take the animal home overnight to see if it will work with your family. That was perfect for us since there were two members of our family that were a questionable fit for a cat. The shelter already closed for the weekend so we had to wait til Monday. After lunch on Monday we picked up the seven-month-old cat. The older three kids were in heaven. She was the center of attention for hours. I kept an eye on my youngest son, but he seemed to be doing okay. He was p1010371interested in the kitty, but a little unsure.

Finally, I told the kids to leave the cat alone for awhile. The kids watched TV while I was busy in the kitchen. Twenty to thirty minutes passed and the kitten decided to see where everybody was. She went into the living room and jumped on the couch right next to my four-year-old. He screamed and cried as he scurried to separate himself from the cat. I picked him up and tried to calm him down. I wasn’t sure if the cat just surprised him or if he truly was afraid. A yellow flag went up for me. I kept a closer eye on him.

During dinner you could see he was cautious, but felt protected by mom and dad, so his guard came down just a bit. After dinner the other kids went to play with the kitten. My son felt just brave enough that he wanted to see her, so we went together. He stood in the doorway and watched the kitten being playful as she pounced all over the girls’ bedroom. He seemed to be enjoying himself until the cat decided to dart out the door he was standing in and went right between his legs. He screamed in terror. He couldn’t get away fast enough. I picked him up. He clung to me, wrapping his arms and legs around me with his head buried in my shoulder. While I tried to comfort my boy, I knew then he was truly scared.

As I began to think about it more, I realized he had been either on the couch or on his brother’s bed all day. Normally he’s very active. He plays on the floor or flies his planes around our house. He’s very silly and loves to dress up like a superhero, then show us his “superspeed.” But he hadn’t been doing any of that today because he was scared of the cat. I knew then the cat had to go. I felt bad that my boy had been in fear all day. I was also saddened because the other kids and I fell in love with this cat. She had such a sweet personality. We loved having her around. I felt like I had to choose between my son being scared all the time or my other three kids being brokenhearted. However, the deal was everyone in the family had to be okay with whatever pet we got. I couldn’t have my son living in fear.

Since I also really wanted to keep our new found friend, I tried talking to my son. I let him know the cat wouldn’t hurt him. She just wanted to play with him. He told me he liked the kitty but didn’t want her to jump on the couch with him or run around. There was just no way to get him to understand he didn’t need to be afraid. His maturity level couldn’t comprehend that he wasn’t in any real danger. I walked to the back of the house to break the sad news to the other kids. There were tears all around. Even I cried as we relished the last hours we had with the cat we called Sadie. It’s amazing how quickly we fell in love with her.

My heart ached. I was torn for all of my children. It seemed there would be no winners here, no matter what choice was made. I went back to the front of the house where my four-year-old was keeping a safe distance from Sadie. He had no idea of the tears and sadness going on. I wanted to be angry at him for being afraid but reminded myself he was only four. It’s my job as his parent to give him the best environment to grow in. I couldn’t make him live with something he feared. Whether that fear was truly dangerous or not. He had to feel safe in his own home.

All of this thinking about fear made me wonder…what kinds of fears are running around in me? How have my fears affected people close to me and I wasn’t even aware of it? I know I fear things—silly things, real things. Fear has been one of the things I’ve dealt with often in my life. Yet, my God is patient with me and the things I fear. Once in awhile I know He’s working with me on fear. The antidote for fear is faith, trust, and love.

There’s a saying that fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. In other words, the devil gets you to believe his lies. When you do, fear enters your heart. God, however, has given us the Bible to show us what truth is. When we build our faith upon the truth of His Word, lies are broken. Sometimes the Lord has broken my fear by disarming lies the enemy has been crafty to feed me.

At other times fear is not an issue of believing lies, but of trusting God. All of us face situations where we have to choose if we will trust God with the outcome. Being a parent is an opportunity to trust God. Trust Him with your child’s future, current provisions, well-being, health, on and on you could go with this list. God has shown my husband and I time and time again that the Great I Am is worthy of our trust through providing for us both needs and wants.

Still other times He’s dealt with my fears by sweetly showing me over and over His unconditional love for me. He sends down what I call “kisses from Heaven” to show me His love. Sometimes it’s in a song or a friend saying they prayed for me. The littlest thing can be kisses that shatter my fears with His unending love for me. God’s perfect love casts out all fear. (I John 4:18)

Just as I don’t want my child to live in fear, neither does the Lord want His children living in fear. Fear is not from God. Fear pulls you inward. It puts you in defense mode. Just like it did with my son when he wasn’t being his normal playful self. Fear keeps you from living free—from being who God created you to be. This is not how God wants His people to live. Jesus came to proclaim freedom for the captives and release prisoners (Isaiah 61:1 NIV), to set the oppressed free and break every yoke (Isaiah 58:6b NIV). Jesus came to give us life and to give it abundantly. (John 10:10) God wants you to be free from fear.

I sought the LORD, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears. Psalms 34:4 (NIV)

For God has not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. II Timothy 1:7 (King James 2000 Bible)

The Spirit of the sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of His splendor. Isaiah 61:1-3 (NIV)

Be Mary

Tired.

          Weary…

                      Drained…

                             BURNT OUT!!!

Being a good homeschooling mom to four doesn’t just happen. It takes time, effort and planning. I use schedules and overview plans to keep me on track. The real life of having four kids helps me be flexible and keeps my type A personality from itemizing every moment. I love my kids dearly and am SO glad I get to train them up in the way they should go by homeschooling them. It is truly a gift. However, it is taxing.

By spring I was so drained from the grading papers, planning, and scheduling. Plus making sure everyone who wasn’t being taught at the moment was doing what they were supposed to be so they weren’t distracting to the child who was being taught. Then trying to get laundry done. And what’s for dinner tonight? Gotta watch the clock and get that started at the right time…

I was desperate for some time to rest and refresh. I had high hopes I would get that in the spring but when my hopes were dashed, it was like an emotional train wreck in my soul. The floodgates of tears opened up. I tried to close those gates and they’d shut…for a time. Then they’d burst open again. With no warning I’d start crying. I began to wonder what was wrong with me. At this point I had no idea what the source was. It wasn’t ’til I started talking with someone that I realized I was burnt out. The cure for burn out is rest. Unplug from your normal daily activities. Relax. This was a new concept for me. I’m the homeschooling mom that takes a break here and there. Maybe a week or two. Otherwise I powerhouse through. I usually lighten the load for the summer but summer break… what’s that? I knew I needed a break. I needed rest. But not just any rest. A deeper kind of rest was needed to fill up what was depleted.

I also noticed I hadn’t been spending time with the Lord like I should. I was reading my Bible and praying but good quality time with the Lord – you know the sit there and soak in His presence and let His love strengthen you – kind of time was scarce. I had let disappointment from some unfulfilled hopes and dreams come in between my relationship with the Lord.

During worship one Sunday, in my heart I heard the phrase, “Be Mary”. Immediately I thought of the story of Mary and Martha and how Mary sat at Jesus’ feet listening to Him. Then I began to doubt myself if it was Mary or Martha at his feet. Realizing the Lord was telling me something specific I relaxed. Later I was curious how the story went so I grabbed my Bible and found the story in Luke 10:38-42:

As Jesus and His disciples were on their way, He came to a village

where a woman Martha opened her home to Him. She had a sister

called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what He said.

But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had be made.

She came to Him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has

left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset

about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen

what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

The Lord was showing me that not only do I need to take time off but I needed to be close to the Lord and listen to Him as Mary did. Resting at His feet. Pressing in with expectation. Hanging on every word. Listening intently to what He has to say because you know His words will transform you and change your life. That is resting in the Lord. That’s the kind of rest that will strengthen you. Fill up what has been taken.

                                         Restore.

                                                    Refresh.

                                                              Recharge.

                      Be Mary.

Jesus feet