Labels

I’ve grown to love the ladies at my weekly bible study. For Christmas I wanted to get them something. It had to be something I could do on a budget though. I decided to give homemade sweet treats. But what would I put them in? Then I remembered all the glass jars I’ve been saving thinking someday they would come in handy. Today was that day.

p1030938There was an assortment of jars that had been used for different things. All of them still had their labels but I wanted clear, clean glass jars. So I filled up my kitchen sink with water and put a few jars in to soak. After letting the jars sit overnight, I pulled them out one by one. I cleaned the inside and took off the label on the outside. Most of them came off pretty well but there was always some sticky, leftover residue. That is when my task became a bit more tedious. I was expecting it so I was up for the challenge. With warm water and just the right tools, I would scrap off every bit of glue that so desperately wanted to stay on. After the jar was free of residue I would give it one more cleaning inside and out then dry it off. Now the jar was ready to be filled with inviting mouthwatering goodies. As a final touch I dressed them up with a ribbon. After finding the perfect gift bag they were ready to be sent out as gifts.

This was my process with each of the jars. It took some time to get them all done. I didn’t rush it though. I knew it would be worth doing a good job. As I stood by my kitchen sink scrapping away the gunk from the label that stubbornly refused to let go, it dawned on me that I am just like one of these jars. Life slaps labels on me telling others what I’m made of. Some labels try to define me or give adjectives to describe me. There are colors and patterns on the labels to get the world to experience what they think I’m about. Yet these labels, unlike jar labels, were not given to me by my Creator. They were set in place by my past, other people, or lies I’ve come to believe. Most of these “labels” are negative and not what the Lord sees in me.

The Lord is going through the same process with me that I was going through with the jars.He has selected me for a purpose. He sees the label on me but also knows what I will become. He takes me as I am and is pleased to have me soak in His presence. The label comes off fairly easy once I’ve been soaking in His presence. It’s there, in His presence, I begin to know who I truly am. Yet, there is that bit of label gunk that still clings to me. The Lord is not surprised and fully ready to complete the job He’s started in me (Phil.1:6). Firmly, yet lovingly, He scraps away all the residue that is trying to disqualify me from my purpose. Filling me with truth, the lies I’vegoldgift come to believe fall off. Before long I am clean and ready to be filled with God’s goodness. He helps me discover the gifts and abilities He’s put in me.

In reality this process often takes years and the Lord doesn’t wait til we are picture perfect before filling us. Praise God! He works through us even while He’s working on us. I must be patient with myself and with God.

What labels are you believing about yourself? How did it get there and what does God say about it? Soak in the Lord’s presence and let Him clean off any gunk that is trying to stick to you.

Creator of the Universe

p1030903A few weeks ago my daughter was learning about the solar system in Science. To me learning about planets was fascinating. As I taught her the characteristics of each planet my mind was filled with awe and wonder towards our Creator.

The crazy high winds on other planets and Venus’ sulfuric acid clouds amazed me. The time it takes for each planet to orbit and rotate were so out-of-the-box from what I’m used to, it took me a bit to wrap my brain around it. The variation of size of the planets and the great distance between each planet reminded me how big  God is.

p1030864
This is a science activity we did to understand the distance between the planets.between each planet reminded me how big our God is.

All of these others planets were amazing but then came Earth, the only planet sustainable for life. Earth, how amazing she is. So much variety on Earth from tropical rain forests to deserts, mountaintops to the deep sea, grasslands to canyons and chilly poles and all the plant and animal life each of these places represent. Earth is the only planet with an abundance of water, temperatures that won’t freeze us or burn us up, the correct tilt for the seasons and an atmosphere with the perfect mixture of gases for us to breathe. God so loves the Earth and everything in it He gave us an ozone layer to protect us.

These may not sound bone chilling to you but when you dig in and look at all God protects us from, how He made the solar system and how He specially designed the Earth to sustain life, it is truly amazing. Truly awe inspiring. Only an amazing Creator can construct something like this. It wasn’t by chance this all happened. The galaxy shows the diversity of our Creator. So complex yet so orderly. It shows how much He loves us and how He paid special attention to this third planet from the sun. He is for life! He is for us!

After reading about the planets I felt so loved by God. So protected by Him. My heart swelled with joy and peace. No matter how small our problems on Earth, God cares. No matter how big our troubles seem to us, nothing is to big for God. I can truly bring anything to our Heavenly Father. He is absolutely amazing!

Your righteousness, O God, reaches the high heavens. You who have done great things, O God, who is like you? Psalm 71:19

proverbs-9-10

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

Our Lessons on Fear in a Nutshell

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a homeschooling mom of four kids between kindergarten and 8th grade. I really enjoy teaching my kids. It’s challenging some days but anything worth doing will have it’s challenges. My favorite class is Bible class. Since I enjoy writing, I often write our Bible curriculum. For several weeks now I’ve been teaching the kids about fear. I thought it was a timely topic. We set out to answer questions such as: What kinds of fears are there? What should we fear and what should we not fear? Where does fear come from? How do people in the Bible deal with fear? What does God have to say about fear? I wanted to share with you a summary of what we discussed. Feel free to discuss these things with your children, grandchildren or students.

Fear is defined in Webster’s II Dictionary as 1 Alarm caused by expectation or realization of danger 2 Reverence: awe 3 A state of dread or apprehension. Since the most common use of the word fear falls under definition three, that’s where we spent much of our time. There are so many different kinds of fear.

Fear of man is when you’re worried about what people may do to you or think of you. The danger here is when you go to great lengths to continue to look good to people. Even if it means you have to lie, be deceptive or disobey the Lord. The Bible says in Proverbs 29:25 “Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the LORD means safety.” Some great examples of this in the Bible are found in I Samuel 15:1-35, Mark 11:27-32, and Luke 20:19.

Fear of harm We all have a natural instinct to move when a ball is flying towards us or run when something jumps out at us. Fleeing from danger can be a good thing. On the other hand a person can become overly worried about getting hurt or sick. God gave us a mind to help us stay safe. We should use wisdom in how we live by eating healthy, following what the Lord says, not fretting over things and trusting God. This will give us health and keep us from situations that could harm us physically, emotionally and spiritually. We also don’t have to fear sickness or injury because God has power over sickness (and injury). “But He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.” Isaiah 53:5

No matter what we face in life God will be with us. He will walk with us and give us strength to get through hard times. He will never leave us. So we don’t have to be afraid. Nothing is bigger than God. No illness, no injury, no situation is to hard for the Lord.

Fear of evil I will fear no evil… Evil, when you hear that word you probably get a feeling or picture. So what do you think of when you hear the word evil? The Dictionary defines evil as something morally wrong or bad, something that causes harm or injury. In other words it’s knowing the difference between right and wrong and choosing to do wrong.

Our enemy, the devil, is full of evil. Satan’s purpose is to steal, kill and destroy. (John 10:10) However, God’s Word teaches that we do not need to fear Satan or any evil.

…the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.” I John 4:4 Jesus lived His life free from sin. He walked in perfect victory. He had power over sickness, sin, even the wind and the waves obeyed Him. He had the power to multiply food just by speaking and death could not overcome Him. He had power over all of this. The same Spirit that lived in Him and did all those things lives in those of us who have made Jesus Lord of our lives. So if you have made Jesus Lord of your life that same Spirit lives in you. That same power lives in you. Jesus said in Luke 10:19, “Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy…”

We do not need to be overcome by evil. We stay away from evil not because we are afraid but because we love God and know it doesn’t please Him to do evil things. We should “hate evil and cling to what is good.” (Rom. 12:9)

Effects of fear Fear is not from God. It’s a tool the enemy uses. He knows he can get us to slow down or stop through fear. Fear works against a sound mind. II Timothy 1:7 says, “For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” The Lord gives us peace. When our minds are fixed on the Lord we will have peace and be able to think things through. We will have confidence, not in ourselves but in the fact that God loves us and is taking care of us. Fear will keep you from what God has for you. It makes you unfruitful and keeps you from moving forward. God desires more for us, SO much more! “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by Him we cry, “Abba Father.” Romans 8:15

Fear of God The fears mentioned earlier have to do with dread or apprehension but fear of the Lord has to do with awe and reverence which proverbs-9-10is the 2nd definition in the dictionary. The fear of the Lord is a great respect for God that includes us doing what He wants us to. We do this because we love Him and are thankful for all He’s done for us. It’s a natural part of following Jesus. When we fear the Lord we will delight in what He delights in and the things that make Him sad will make us sad too.

All who fear the LORD will hate evil. Proverbs 8:13a

The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, turning a person from the snares of death. Proverbs14:27

Overcoming fear We don’t have to stay a slave to fear. Because of what Jesus did for us through His death and resurrection. We don’t have to let fear control us or cower away from what the Lord calls us to do. God has given us weapons in this battle. The Lord has given us wisdom to know when something is not good and to walk away. First Thessalonians 5:22 says, “Stay away from evil.” That’s pretty clear instruction.

The Word of God, the Bible, is a wonderful tool the Lord has given to us. In it we will find direction, promises, truth, and strength. There are more verses about fear in the Word than I can put in these lessons. Get to know the Bible. See what God is speaking to you. Memorize Scripture. At just the right time the Holy Spirit will remind you of what God’s Word says when you need it. Hebrews 4:12 says, “The Word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than any two-edged sword…”

Ephesians 6:12 reminds us that we are in a battle but we are not fighting people. We are fighting powers of darkness. But we don’t need to worry because God gave us weapons to fight with. In fact, He gave us His very own armor. Ephesians 6:11 says, “Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all the strategies of the devil.” Jesus taught that God has given us authority over the power of the enemy. (Luke 10:19, Mark 16:17-18, Luke 9:1, John 14:12) We need to learn how to use the armor and authority God has given us.

The last tool the Lord has given us to overcoming fear is a powerful one – trust. We can put our trust in God. We can trust that God is in control. We can trust that He will supply our needs. We can trust He will protect us from all that we fear. We can trust that He will do what He promises. We can trust Him to never leave us, that He will strengthen us and He will carry us through. We can trust Him no matter what the circumstances because He has proven Himself to be faithful. Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”

As we rest in Him all our fears will melt away. Get in His presence, focus on Him and trust Him. I closed by reading them Psalm 91.

There you go, that’s the summary. The original lessons took us seven or eight days and had questions at the end of each lesson. Then we looked at some Bible stories to see how people reacted when fear was starring them in the face. I should point out that I do Bible class with all four children at the same time. Some of this was a little over my kindergartner’s head but I was surprised how many times he came up with the right answers. One thing I’ve learned about teaching the kids is you never know when they may be getting it better than you think. If nothing else I believe seeds get planted in their hearts and I know the Lord will be faithful to complete that work.

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

Looking Up

With a family of six there is never a shortage of laundry. I was in the laundry room the other day when I glanced out the window and noticed a robin stuck in our neighbors’ trampoline. They have a net around the trampoline. The little bird was hopping around the edge, looking at the net then hopping around again and looking at the net some more. I wondered if he knew how to get out. He did find the opening but it has several layers of net over P1010925each other. He couldn’t maneuver his way through it. So he hopped around some more til finally he paused. He stood very still; like he was thinking. Then, it’s as if he remembered he’s a bird. He exploded up and flew out the top. He was free.

What a great lesson not just for this little bird but for us too. We tend to look at the walls that surround us. The problems starring down at us. We try to help ourselves but cannot open the door on our own. You see, this little bird wasn’t created to open doors just like we weren’t made to carry burdens on our own. Yet God has given us everything we need in times of trouble. We need only to look up. Look to the Lord who cares about every little detail of our life because He cares about us.

Be still.

Know that God is in control.

Remember who’s child you are.

He will show you the way and before long, you’ll be soaring again.

Soaring and free.

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.

Exodus 14:14 (NIV)