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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Kids

I used to think that God gave me kids so I could raise them up to be lights for Him. That my job was to instill in them Godly characteristics, teach them to love God, and to show them how to bear witness of His love for us. And while those things are all true, I have come to see that God 's intention was not so one-sided. God blessed me with these children so that He could teach me!

I was reflecting on child number three the other day in preparation for her graduation from high school. This past year has not been the easiest with her. It appeared that every rule we put in place was simply an obstacle for her to challenge. And unlike her two older sisters, who would cautiously approach boundaries and occasionally lean hard against them, this child would get up a running start and robustly pole vault right over them.


And that's when the Lord gave me an "Aha!" moment. This child in the midst of all the uproar had been going to other people for advice. These people were not christian and certainly did not have the same perspective as my husband and I did. And while they were giving this child seemingly "good" advice, it was "worldly" advice and not based on the Bible. The advice "sort-of" supported our rules and boundaries, but didn't deal with the heart issue that was at the root of the behaviors. Because of this I was feeling frustrated, angry, and jealous. 


Then I heard a sermon. A sermon about putting other things before God. A sermon about our focus and "serving two masters" (Matthew 6:24). And that still small voice, that so often grabs my attention so much more clearly than the whirlwind, said, "Listen." And so I did and God spoke to my heart:How hurt I was when my daughter turned to others and sought comfort from them. How frustrated I was when I gave her good, sound, biblical advice and she instead turned to the world. How jealous I was when she preferred the company and confidences of others instead of sharing with me. And yet, I turned to others for my comfort and reassurance instead of God. I failed to listen to the advice found within the Bible and "leaned on my own understanding." I complained and cried out to others regarding my daughter's poor choices, rather than pouring my heart out to God.


God, my heavenly father, desires that I turn to Him, seek Him for comfort and direction. I was just as wrong as my daughter for looking for another way. A way that was easier, more "sparkly", more inline with my fleshly desires. A way that made me feel good, rather than one that actually dealt with the heart issue that was at the root. 


But there is more. Just as I would give anything for my children, God feels even more so towards us. His own son was sacrificed so that I will not ever have to fear death. (Philippians 2:7-9 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name.) When I chose to believe and put my faith forever in Him, Jesus took on my sins and the punishment. I am forgiven forever because He gave everything for me. 


God gave me these children, with their particular personalities, so that I can grow in my relationship with Him. This awareness has given me a new found ability to embrace their unique temperament and substance, and a new found love for the Lord has filled me. Psalm 35:9 And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord: it shall rejoice in his salvation.


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

New Year's Resolutions

So it's the second week of January and I am getting around to contemplating and assessing my New Year resolutions. Being only the second week of January, some of them are going better than others.

There are the standard ones: I want to be more faithful in my devotions time, eat healthier, and exercise more.

And then there are the ones that require more thought, more work, more effort. Some of these are subsets of the above resolutions, and others are stand alone.

I want to produce, save, prepare more of our own foods. This requires putting more thought into food shopping and planning ahead. Planning ahead for raising our own meat chickens in the spring (coop, lighting, feed, etc). Researching and learning about using my new dehydrator and vacuum sealer.

I want to eliminate our debt. A college graduation and a wedding this summer are going to make this an extremely difficult task. We don't carry too much debt since we did away with credit cards six years ago, but we do have a few loans and the mortgage that I would like to see gone. I have decided to break this into smaller goals spread out over the next three years. So the goal for this year is to eliminate a small personal loan and cut our camper loan in half. Next year we want to eliminate the camper loan and half of my student loans (yes, I am STILL paying on those!). Then the third year we will finish the student loans and start on our mortgage. Sam retires from the firehouse sometime around 2023 and we really want to be free from all debt by then. This plan requires really cutting back our spending on eating out, groceries, travel, and other extras. GULP!

I want to be more patient. I am so impulsive sometimes and dive into things with little or no forethought. My mouth runs ahead of my head and my heart is often miles ahead of my mouth. My intention is to do good, but in the end I am apologizing, scurrying to get it all done, and just squeaking by with no time to spare. I really want to take time this year to choose my words carefully. I want to choose my actions carefully. I want to take the time to fully enjoy the moments I have without thinking about the next project I have on the agenda.

And so, I have an app on my tablet that is helping me keep up with my Bible reading time. Abby has agreed to go with me to the gym at least two times a week, where she makes me do the weights with her. I do the treadmill/elliptical/bike the other days. I am reading books about food: where it comes from, how it is processed, and what is in it. I am reading books about preserving my own food.

And lastly, but perhaps most importantly, I am praying more. I am finding that as I share my heart with God, He is changing my heart. I pray this leads to perhaps a kinder, gentler person. A person who is living life abundantly in every minute, not anticipating what life might be in five minutes.

It's only week two and my arm muscles are sore, I have missed one day of devotions, I've completed one book about pork production, I have declined two opportunities, but accepted one after some consideration, and I made one extra payment against the personal loan already.
Only 50 more weeks to go....


Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas in Canterbury

My mom and dad went to Kansas for Christmas, where the spent the week having fun with our family that lives there. So our annual family Christmas party was held the Sunday after they returned. This party is one of the highlights of our Christmas festivities. I so enjoy the company of my brothers, their wives and kids and now, as the family expands, the "significant others" that are joining the group.








UGH! He never lets me take his picture!




So much for, "Smile!"






Yes. That would be an entire stick of butter going into the mashed potatoes!

So the "Eggnog Chocolates" weren't so great.


The "Christmas Overload Meltdown" (COM) in it's earliest stages. (Notice how we are all laughing at her? We are so not nice...)










Chocolate temporarily soothed the savage beast...

I think this was Samantha's favorite gift.







Bringing out the heavy tools for the toy packaging.

Dad took control of the knife to prevent any more "Toy Packaging" injuries.



Aerial view.

Christmas exploded all over the living room.






"Christmas Overload Meltdown" (COM) goes to DEFCON 2.






Great Uncle John's gift of 50 pounds of candy.
 The dentist writes him a thank you note every year...










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