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True Woman 101: Week 3: Sugar & Spice

Welcome back for Week 3: Sugar & Spice in our discussion through the 8 week Bible Study in True Woman 101: Divine Design by Nancy Leigh Demoss & Mary Kassian. If you’ve missed out on previous weeks, you can find them here. We had a smaller group this week in our live discussion, but we enjoyed such sweet fellowship and encouragement, so feel free to tune in through our live audio recording.

Follow this link: True Woman 101: Week 3 Audio.

Here is the panel discussion for Week 3:

If you cannot view the video, click here.

Since my notes were covered thoroughly in the live discussion which you can listen to above, I will just copy a few notes and thoughts below.

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Comments { 9 }

True Woman 101: Week 2: God’s Design in Manhood

Wow…we finished Week 2 of our Bible study on True Woman: Divine Design this past week and it has been fantastic and so refreshing to renew and challenge our view of biblical womanhood and what it means to live it out according to God’s design. We were able to record our week 2 discussion for you all…it took us awhile to figure out how to get it uploaded and all, but here it is at last.

Here’s the link to our live discussion from my home to yours: True Woman: Week 2 Audio Discussion. It is about an hour in length. With babies and lovely pauses, it is the real deal.

Here is the panel discussion on Week 2. These weekly panels are so fun to watch and add a great additional resource to the study! You can view all the panels at True Woman 101.


If you cannot view the video, click here.

REVIEW: In Week 2, the focus of our study turns briefly to the intentionality through which God created manhood. God created men to image the relationship of Christ to the church. At the core of manhood, we see that taking initiative, working to provide for others, being a protector and provider, as well as exercising godly leadership are at the core of what it means to be a man. Man’s role is not about exalting man. Authority is not about rights; it’s about responsibility.

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Comments { 5 }

Making a “Place” in your Life for Prayer


By monthly contributor Ann Dunagan of Harvest Ministry

Imagine if someone gave you a brand-new living room set. The pieces of furniture are so much better than you could have imagined, or dreamed. The set is absolutely perfect for your family. The colors. The style. The look. Wow. It’s so much better than that old worn-out set that should have gone years ago.

But imagine bringing that new living room set home . . . and leaving it outside.

You know it needs to come in. You want to bring it in.
But you just aren’t willing to take the time to rearrange your living room.

You don’t want to “bother” with getting rid of the old set.
It’s such a job to get everything moved around.

Making a “place” for God’s gift of prayer . . .

As Christians, we have been given a tremendous gift. God has extended a special invitation for us to spend time with Him on a regular basis; but sometimes, we aren’t willing to take the time to “rearrange” our lives to fit this time with Him into our comfortable old routine.

A simple way to begin a new daily habit for time with the Lord is to find a “place” for it.

Just like we would need to rearrange our furniture to fit a new couch set into our home, we need to rearrange our life (and be willing to get rid of old habits and time-fillers) to make room for prayer.

A new lifestyle of daily prayer will require consistent desire and discipline, but it’s wonderful to know that God will help you to make necessary changes. He is so willing and desiring to give us His strength and His help. As you rely on Him (even for this daily God-empowered discipline and self-control), your time with the Lord can eventually become a highlight of your day and a strength of your life.

In a spiritually-healthy family, our prayer-life can include praying with others at church, praying together as a family, and/or praying (or “interceding”) for the needs of others and for the world.

Yet, nothing is more spiritually beneficial for families than a lifestyle of personal prayer.

Do your kids “see” you spending time with God?

As Christians, we tell our kids that it’s good to pray. Perhaps we pray before mealtime. Perhaps we pray for our kids at night (during those special times when we remember to tuck in our little ones before they fall asleep).

Yet how many of us, as moms, are a bit lacking in our own daily personal prayer lives? As we develop our own personal relationship with God through our own regular time with the Lord, the cooperate effect on the family and on others is powerful. We get more of God’s heart and perspective and we begin to follow His day-by-day leading.

One effective “strategy” to begin to establish a new habit of daily prayer is to literally make a physical “place” in your home as a little prayer spot. It can serve as your reminder to come and spend time, even just a moment, with the Lord.

If time with God is something you want in your life, be encouraged. If you don’t measure up to the expectations of others (or of yourself), don’t give up. It can be difficult with babies and kiddos, but it’s not impossible. Just make a few strategic steps and start moving forward. Even a few minutes a day to set your heart and mind on the Lord is powerful. With God’s help, YOU CAN DO THIS!!!

As parents, one of the greatest ways to instill in your kids the foundation of life-impacting faith is for your kids to actually “see” you reading your Bible, (on a regular everyday basis, not just at church), and for your kids to “see” you taking time to pray by yourself.

Establish a special “place” in your home for PRAYER

  • perhaps a comfy chair in a spare bedroom
  • perhaps in your home office
  • perhaps on the couch in your living room
  • perhaps on a trail outside your house or a quiet walk around your neighborhood

If you haven’t been taking the time to consistently pray on a regular basis, it’s helpful to “round up” a few quiet-time accessories or “spiritual” items and to have them set aside and waiting for you in your designated new quiet-time place.

Here are a few suggestions for helpful “QUIET TIME” items:

  • your own Bible (with a marker to remember where you are reading)
  • a daily Bible-reading chart
  • a journal or notebook, with a pen and a highlighter
  • a devotional or “meaty” spiritual book (to challenge your walk with Christ)
  • a world map, and missionary newsletters
  • a CD with quiet worship music
  • possibly even items for holy communion (with wafers, a cup, and grape juice) for a personal communion time (see I Corinthians 11) perhaps on a daily, weekly, biweekly, or monthly basis, to remember the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice

Remember to be flexible . . . and walk with God throughout each day!

Along with consistency in prayer, it’s important to be flexible. In the life of every family, there will be different seasons and changing schedules. What works today may not work tomorrow; yet even so, we need to faithfully guard our time with God. If what you’re doing right now, concerning your personal daily prayer life, is working, by all means keep it up; but if it’s not working, please ask for God’s help and His grace (along with His unlimited creative ideas) to make a change!

Living a life of prayer is simply walking and talking with God. It’s vital to acknowledge God’s presence right beside you and with you all throughout each day.

As individuals, and as families, we can welcome the presence of God’s Spirit into every dimension of our lives. God cares about everything (whether little or big, silly or significant, everyday or eternal), and we can welcome His presence into every decision and every activity. In our families and in our daily communication with God, there should not be a barrier between what is “holy” and what is “common”; instead, God desires for every dimension of our lives (at home, at school, at church, at work, and even at play) to be lived in constant fellowship with Him.

We need to get that “special couch set” (our daily time with the Lord) into our main living room. Some of our old furniture might have to go. Some of our old decorations and clutter might not “match” with the quality of this new look. But the new pieces are so perfect; and we want that new couch set TO FIT!

“Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased,
that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray . . .
Luke 11:1

Helpful Prayer Guides:

31 Days of Praying for your Children
31 Days of Praying for your Husband
31 Days of Praying for your Pastor
Operation World 

Comments { 11 }

Just Second Rate

She won every competition she entered…and I was always left with second prize. I strove so hard to prove that I was smart, but always fell just a little short. I was the tallest girl with the lanky skinny legs compared to a colt that wasn’t comfortable on my feet. I had a mad bush of curly, frizzy, untamable hair. I knew nothing about style or fashion or even how to apply some basic eyeliner or shadow. Did I mention I didn’t wear makeup till I was 18? I was kind of an outcast at extended family gatherings because I was homeschooled, shy, and modest. I didn’t flaunt it because I sure didn’t have it. Just second rate.

Comparison…self-identity….depression…insecurity….have been frequent struggles in my heart over the years. They have entangled me time and time again through a comment received, through the success of another, and through my own failure. God’s mercy has been paving the way for my deliverance through the only thing that can possibly bring change…and that is the gospel.

In my heart I have based my own security and happiness on the way that other people think of me. I had raised the approval of others to a place of idolatry in my heart. My feelings and emotions went up and down based upon the opinions of others. I had made the opinion of others my God-replacement and the results were continual sinking into despair.

I need the gospel for every struggle. I need to be reminded that the gospel is the only thing that can truly draw us out of our idolatry and provide us with the true freedom in Christ. “In Christ” I am fully accepted and approved because of Jesus’ work for me. No improvement, good behavior, or performance is necessary in order to experience the deep acceptance we long for and in fact strive for on a daily basis.

Colossians 1:12-14 says,The Father…has qualified you [past tense; it's finished] to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us [past tense again; the deliverance is completed] from the domain of darkness and transferred us [past tense once more: the transferal is already concluded] to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have [present tense; this very moment we possess it] redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

Dear sister, whatever your struggle, stop with me know and recognize that we serve a God who has paid the price for your freedom. Soak it in. Claim it as your own. We are free in Christ from the slavish demand to “become”. WE ALREADY ARE!

I love how Tullian shares it: “If you’re a Christian, here’s the good news: who you really are has nothing to do with you – how much you can accomplish, who you can become, your behavior (good or bad), your strengths, your weaknesses, your sordid past, your family background, your education, your looks, and so on. Your identity is firmly anchored in Christ’s accomplishment, not yours; his performance, not yours; his victory, not yours. Your identity is steadfastly established in his substitution, not in your sin. As my friend…recently said, ‘The gospel doesn’t just free you from what other people think about you; it frees you from what you think about yourself.’ You’re free!”

You are a unique jewel, my friend.

You are beautiful…just the way you are.

You are accepted.

Each quirk was fashioned by a glorious Father that designed it to add to your beauty.

Your vessel may be cracked…but each crack allows the beautiful light within you to shine more brightly.

Every fear and failure…He has overcome.

Can we just let go and embrace his love for us today?

And remember…all those worldly trophies, they just get dusty on the shelf or boxed up in the garage anyway.

Photo Credit

Comments { 42 }

Raising Samuels

Eli helping Samuel to learn to hear God's voice

From Contributing Writer, Trina Holden

Learning to hear God’s voice is a life-long journey. I want to give my kids an early start by teaching them they can learn to listen while they’re young. Here’s how we’re cultivating a listening ear in our home…

Read the story of Samuel {A Lot!}

I want my son to understand that God really does talk to 5 year old boys! He’s had the concept quite cemented in his mind through the story of Samuel, which we’ve read over and over in every version of the Bible we have.

Our favorite is the one in the Rhyme Bible Storybook. My kids love the rhythm of poetry so we read it over and over until they could recite it with me.

“When it happened again, Old Eli knew,

And he told the boy what he should do:

‘Listen, for God is speaking to you!’”

Teach Them That All Good Things Come From God

James 1:17 says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights”. This verse is key to helping us discern whether something we hear is from God. Is it good? Teach your children that we can’t take the credit for any of the good that comes out of us. Once they realize that the source of a bright idea or a kind thought is actually God’s Spirit, it can help them tune in to His voice.

The other day, when I got home from running errands, I reached for the screen door and found the wind had slammed it so hard it was jammed shut. No amount of yanking would budge it. I had a little moment of panic. The kids were cold and hungry — I needed to get them inside. Jesse (5) had the idea to try the back door.

“Thanks, boy, but it’s probably locked.” I quickly dialed my husband to ask “What to do?”

Undaunted, my boy ran around the corner of the house and, to our surprise, turned the handle and proudly announced to his mommy, “I got it! It’s open!”

We trooped gratefully inside for lunch. Later that day, Jesse said, out of the blue, “Mom, I think that was GOD for me to think to use the back door!”

I agreed that, yes, good ideas come from God.

Live It Out In Front of Them

Share openly with your children what God is working in your own heart. They may not grasp the concepts, but they will get the main idea – that one CAN have dialog with the Father.

One day I realized that the words I thought were over their head were still having an impact. Jesse said to me, “Mom, God talked to me today.”

“Yeah? What did He say?”

“Same thing He told you, Mom! ‘Be patient and keep on keepin’ on’!”

Thank you, Father!

More Ideas For Raising Samuels:

  • If you children are old enough, encourage them to keep a little prayer journal where they write a prayer to God and then jot down anything they hear in return.
  • If they are too young to write, let them dictate what they hear after you read a little scripture, or lead them to draw a picture.
  • Remind them that the quiet time in their bed alone as they fall asleep is a great time to talk with God.

“Allow the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God”. Mark 10:14

As you lead your children, your own heart will be encouraged when you witness their childlike faith.

How are you cultivating your children’s faith? What has worked for your family? I’m always looking for more ideas!

Photo Credit

Comments { 12 }

Screaming Toddlers & Sleepless Babies

I had an adventurous evening last night. With my husband away working extra night hours to launch his new business, this momma has been acting the part of a single mommy trying to juggle all the aspects of child care, home maintenance, and food preparation on her own. While struggling with little to no sleep, it has surely been challenging. My infant refused to go to sleep due to stuffy noses and stayed up with me till 10:30pm, while I strove to contain a pile high of laundry, amidst my toddler boy getting up repeatedly to use the toilet, always needing help in the process.

Finally coming up at 10:30, only to discover my toddler crying at the top of his lunges standing in a puddle of pee, soaked through his jammies. While he stands there crying, my infant is lying on the bed with poop leaking through her diaper onto my comforter. Running back and forth, I madly try to change each of them, nurse the baby, comfort the toddler (who gets incredibly distraught when he has an accident), and settle them all down in their beds. So much for a quiet evening to myself. And this was just the evening…we won’t get into the adventures of the day. ;)

I finally crashed on the bed, leaving the cleanups for the morning. Normally I would be stressed out, frazzled, and ready to throw in the towel. What did I get myself into? I might moan and feel sorry for myself. But tonight, God supplied me with an extra measure of grace to simply sit back and laugh. To replay the situation and see the humor in it all. To laugh at all the adventures this mothering business provides. To let go of my frustration and weariness and embrace the journey He has called me to. We will surely look back in years to come and laugh…why not do it now? Feeling sorry for myself surely won’t get me anywhere. It won’t improve my situation. It won’t increase my contentment. Laughter provides such healing to the soul.

It reminded me of Ma Ingall’s sage advice in the Little House on the Prairie tv series. She was getting all frustrated over something Pa had done and seeping in anger in her inner being. She finally declares to Pa, “It’s such a waste of time to be angry at you.” And they heartily laugh together. This struck me. She had such wisdom to discern the pointlessness of focusing on her own frustrations and disappointments. Feeling sorry for herself surely didn’t improve the situation. She realized that ultimately it is just a waste of time.

I rise this morning with several messes on hand…but the joy of the Lord as my strength! Go forth in the joy of the Lord today my friends and seek to let go and laugh. May the Lord supply us with grace to embrace the challenges, to laugh at the adventures, and to do all in the grace and strength that He alone supplies.

Remember the wise woman of Proverbs 31:25: “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.” I pray for this freedom to let go of fear and laugh at ourselves in our daily lives and to have such trust in the Lord that we can laugh as we look forward to the adventures of the future.

{Photo credit}

Comments { 57 }

Screaming Babies & Praying Mommas

by contributing writer Ann Dunagan of Harvest Ministry.

Finding God’s balance for motherhood and ministry is sometimes a difficult (and continually changing) tug-of-war; but I believe the struggle is healthy. As a homeschooling mother of seven, I place a high priority on God’s calling to care for our own children; however, I also feel a call of God’s heart for the needs of world missions. Multitudes across the globe desperately need God’s salvation and millions of orphan children are in need.

God cares about my kids and God cares about the lost. As a mission-minded mom, how can I keep these two “pulls “on my heart in balance — in a way that will truly please the heart of the Lord?

Most of the time, just doing another load of laundry, or drilling the kids on grammar, or reading a bedtime story . . . doesn’t seem very important. But God sees the big picture. He highly esteems motherhood and He values a faithful mom who is willing to lay down her “big dreams” . . . to serve her family.

At the same time, He sees the lost and the reality of heaven and hell. The blood of Jesus is the only way of salvation and the “unreached” must hear the gospel. Over 1.6 Billion people are still waiting to hear of the cross. According to UNICEF, there’s a minimum of 143,000,000 orphans in the world and many of these children are in desperate need. Unsaved people. Unborn babies. And so many real-life needs.

How can we balance this two-sided pull?

 

“Do not have your concert first, and then tune your instrument afterwards. Begin the day with the Word of God and prayer, and get first of all into harmony with Him.”

―Hudson Taylor, Missionary to China

 

The “healthy” motherhood & missions tug-of-war

If you’re a mission-minded mother (a Christian mom with a heart for others), I’m sure you’ve felt this tug-of-war between motherhood and ministry. Our children need to know that we love them; but they also need to know that we have a heart for others. Our kids need to know that we care about their needs, but they also need to know that they’re not the center of the universe, and that others have needs too. Finding the balance can be a struggle; but I believe the process of finding God’s daily divine balance is a healthy evaluation process, both for ourselves and for our family.

We all face this struggle . . .

Perhaps the phone rings, and your friend begins pouring our her heart about a desperate situation. Maybe a fragile marriage is falling apart, or someone at church was just rushed to the hospital. These needs are real, and often urgent. How do we find the right “combo” for each day, and each season of our lives? How do we balance these pressing needs with the ongoing “everyday” needs of our own family?

This personal testimony of “The Praying Mommas and the Screaming Babies” is from one of our Africa mission trips years ago. The story has continually reminded me to seek the Lord’s divine calling for each day. I have found that the key to finding God’s balance is to stay in communication with God through prayer; however, He sees the full picture of both motherhood and ministry.

God sees the world’s needs, and He also sees the needs of our children. He can help us to see both in His divine daily balance, and God can speak to us . . . as a mom.

The Praying Mommas and the Screaming Babies

About five thousand women gathered for a week of ministry, teaching, and worship. The accommodations for our East African village conference were humble. Bamboo awnings covered with tarps provided shade from the hot sun, and most of the women simply brought straw mats for sleeping. Many women also brought little children and nursing babies, whom they cared for as they listened to the sessions.

One morning, I got up and took an early morning prayer-walk, and I was blessed (and challenged) to see hundreds of women gathered for a time of fervent prayer.

As I walked quietly behind the group, I noticed a few women who were praying very hard and loud, but then I noticed that these women were totally oblivious to the needs of their little babies–sitting with bare bottoms in wet little puddles in the dirt, screaming at the top of their lungs. As I watched for a few moments, I wondered what God thought about their fervent prayers. One by one I picked up the babies and tried to help them stop crying, handing each one to his or her momma.

Later that day I shared with the women about the importance of balancing our ministry with our family priorities. Yet I was also challenge on a personal level.

How many times does God see my own out-of-balance efforts, like when I’m at work on the computer or busy with a mission project–and my little kids are plopped down in front of one-too-many videos?

I want God to hear my prayers, and I want my efforts to be actions of obedience. I need to keep balanced; but it’s not a one-time solution. Every day, we need to come to God to allow Him to tune each string of our instrument. Each heart-string needs to be stretched to just the perfect sound . . . that will be pleasing to the heart of God.

Let’s pick up our babies and love them.

And together with our kids-in-tow, let’s get a family-vision for world missions!!!

“Ponder the path of your feet,
And let all your ways be established.”

–Proverbs 4:26

Comments { 41 }

Listen to the Quiet :: A Daily Pause for Moms {part 2}

Written by contributing writer, Daniele Evans at Domestic Serenity.

So we’ve talked about just why rest is important and what true rest includes.  A time for reflection and for leisure, this daily rhythm of separating morning work from evening work by a 15 to 30 minute pause is quite beneficial to our days.

I didn’t always practice this.  Like several commenters in the first post, I felt slightly guilty.  But, I was approaching it all the wrong way.  Instead of thinking ‘I deserve this’, my mentality shifted to ‘God created rest for me and wants me to enjoy it’.  The truth of that statement led me to further study God’s example and commands to pause and rest in regular intervals.

The result was a fresh appreciation for God’s design and a new desire to honor His ways instead of my own.  A daily pause is one way to stop the work, reflect upon God’s goodness and refuel a little.

Here are a few tips I’ve found helpful:

PREP & PLAN AHEAD

Remember the first step is to believe this pause is a priority!

Assign a time to your rest :: this doesn’t need to be exact, unless it’s helpful to you, but even to the hour such as ‘sometime between 3-4 p.m.’

Decide if anything needs to be adjusted :: what will the children be doing?  are there other chores usually done now that should be moved to morning or evening? Figure out potential hindrances and work at adjusting the routine in order to pause.

A note about children:  I’ve found following the lead of the youngest child’s needs helpful.  Whether you follow a consistent schedule or a more open routine, babies and toddlers usually have some pattern of napping in the afternoons.  Arrange for other children to enjoy quiet time or a nap themselves while you pause for 15-30 minutes.

Note from Lindsay: With three little ones you may agree that it can be challenging to get them all to nap together. But I can testify that with a little work, it is possible. My two older ones nap/rest between 1-3pm each day (anywhere from 1.5-2 hrs). To get my infant to rest during the same period, I shorten her morning nap and waken her by 11:30am (which adjusts as she grows), so that she has a sufficient awake period before she gets tired again when the older two go to sleep. During the transition period from two to one nap, I try to stretch the baby and endure a little extra fussiness to be able to put them down again together. It’s worth it. Sometimes this might include putting the older ones down 30 minutes earlier. Every day is a bit different, sometimes this rest period is shorter or longer, but overall it is worth the effort when your house is full of little ones. My mom always encouraged me to keep a good nap routine as long as possible (I remember my siblings napping till they were 6 years old!).

Designate a space :: find a spot in your home (or outdoors!) that feels restful; I like going to the same place each day — the couch or kitchen table.  Resist the temptation to clean while you’re there!  Also gather all you’ll need to enjoy:  a pen, journal or other paper, book you’re reading, knitting or other handwork, etc.  Place these in a basket or container and have them ready so time is not wasted searching.

Remove distractions ::  say no to the phone, voicemail, email, social media, etc.

ENJOY THE MOMENTS

Decide on a treat :: a cup of tea or coffee, a sweet…something that feels like a treat to you!  Or maybe resting in itself is the treat?

Light a candle or play relaxing music :: okay, this is not a necessity but simply a way to separate these moments from the rest of the day.  I’ve also found it helpful for my children to know when Mommy’s time is up — when the candle is blown out!  No music handy?  Try David Nevue’s station on Pandora.

Reflect on the morning :: for a few minutes, celebrate 2-3 things that went well; I’d encourage writing these down in a journal or notebook.

Rest!  Either physically by taking a power nap or by enjoying a leisure activity.  You might want to set a timer, most of us can’t take the whole afternoon!

Need some resources for keeping your kids busy during a quiet rest time?

- Check out these quiet time bins (with great ideas for keeping your kiddos playing quietly in their own space after they have transitioned out of taking naps)
- More ideas for quiet time bins
- Invest in a CD player with headphones and allow them to listen to books on tape (many great classic books can be borrowed from your local library for your children’s enjoyment)

So, what you do think — possible?  Feel free to add other ideas or thoughts.

I bless you with restful, rejuvenating daily pauses!

photo credit

Comments { 13 }

The Journey to Becoming Radically Thankful

My kids and I recently discovered a sweet story at our library titled Sweet Beauties by Elvira Woodruff. It is the story of a young girl named Darcy in Ireland in 1845 during a severe famine. She notices the beauty of a spider web dipped in dew across her milk pail and the towering castles formed in the clouds. She stores up little treasures she finds in nature in the hem of her dress, from pebbles to dried flowers. Despite the loss of their potato crops, their home, and their eventual immigration to America, she is the one who continues to treasure the gifts around her and bring hope to her family.

I began a journey nearly 14 months ago to become a radically thankful woman (thanks to the inspiring read One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp). In this process, I have recorded over 900 sweet and precious gifts that I have seen in the everyday mundane moments of life. I have witnessed a merciful God display His glory through the simple beauties around me. There have certainly been times when I didn’t feel like recording my gifts. There were many a night when I struggled to sleep, was crying out for mercy, and the Lord gently reminded me to count my blessings. I opened up my list and began again. There have been many a day when everything seemed to fall apart, and yet there was still grace on display to be observed.

I have observed the treasures of…

…the joyful giggles from my little girl

…the ability to dream

…taking a nap in the sunshine

…my daughter’s sweet attempts of catching snowflakes on tongue

…the warmth of a down comforter on cold winter nights

…the blue dawn to awaken my body in the morning

…Daddy snuggling up with little ones reading stories

…The ability to extend nourishment to my child at my chest

…Seeds lying dormant beneath my feet preparing to sprout in a few short months

In the progress of this journey, my heart has been radically changed. I have been less susceptible to discouragement and depression. I am less inclined to a spirit of negativity, which is my destructive pessimistic self. I am enjoying life at a whole new level. I am seeing how precious and sweet this life is. There are gifts to be discovered in this adventure, even amid the trial and pain.

Being a loving mother can be such a challenge, but when I stop and pray for eyes to see the treasures, I will be able to dig deep in God’s goodness, and see the cute dimple on my baby’s cheek even amidst the late night feedings. I can see the sincere blue eyes and gentle reminder “It’s okay, Mommy”, from my daughter’s lips even when I am crying in frustration at my failure. I become more free to throw out the to-do list and romp around with my little ones and treasure the moment.

Being a supportive cheerful wife can be one of the most difficult pursuits especially when you may think he has made a stupid decision or he has thoughtlessly forgotten your request or overlooked your need. But when I stop and pray for grace to see, I see a faithful man who diligently provides for all our needs. I see a man that will love me to the day I die. I see a man who willingly romps around with the kids playing dinosaur, dragons, and hide & seek even after a long day of work.

This journey has been hard…but so good. It has been a gift of grace in my life. It has been a gentle reminder that I have only one life to live. I want to make every moment count for eternity. It has caused me to slow down, to observe, to express my thanks, and to see the joy of the Lord abound in my heart.

I cannot stop. I am a work in progress. I still have my days. Today, I am losing my voice due to a cold, my miserable attempt at a craft project with the kids ended in disaster, my little man (who was potty trained 7 months ago) continues to have frequent pee-pee accidents when he gets distracted or excited leaving me beyond frustrated. But when I stop, rest, reflect, and observe, I see the gift of the blessing of staying home to nurture my little ones, healthy food to nourish our bodies, a daddy close by to help in a disaster, and three little munchkins who never cease to make me laugh.

This year my goal is to record 1,000 gifts over the duration of this year on top of my 900+ list. I want to have a record of 2,000 gifts by the close of 2012. Care to join me on the journey? Ready to find true joy among the mundane? I find it works best to record my gifts every morning during my devotions as I reflect upon the previous day. You may prefer buying multiple little journals and scattering them around your house to record the moments.

Check out A Holy Experience every Wednesday where Ann shares her gifts and you can link up with yours too!

Oh that we might be like Darcy, the little Irish girl, who observed the sweet beauties…to be able to stop and think about the gifts that surround us even when life gets difficult. Would you care to join me? Ready to have your mindset transformed?

I love how the Message translation puts Ephesians 5:4, “Let no crude language or foolish joking be on your lips. Christians have better use of language. Thanksgiving is our dialect.”

It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to the Most High. It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning, your faithfulness in the evening” (Psalms 92:1-2).

“Let the godly sing for joy to the Lord, it is fitting for the pure to praise him” (Psalms 33:1).

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Listen to the Quiet :: A Daily Pause for Moms

Written by contributing writer, Daniele Evans from Domestic Serenity.

Alright, I know what you’re thinking.  Maybe you’re even laughing.  Listen to the…quiet?

And you’re wondering just where this post is going.  We could probably agree that a daily spa moment of sorts is helpful to our well-being.  But just how to make this happen may seem a mystery.

So, hear me out and offer your thoughts as well?

I know Mama.  I know.  A household full of little ones, homeschooling, cooking, cleaning, ministry, training, teaching, being a wife, a friend, a sister — where in the world does a daily pause fit in!?

May I suggest today that it naturally doesn’t?  At least not all on its own.  This time will not just happen…it must be created.

The WHY

First, we must embrace the necessity of pause, of rest.  Rest is not man’s idea, it’s God’s.  Man takes it farther than ever intended and makes it laziness, but true rest was designed and demonstrated by a loving God from the beginning.  He knew just what people, Moms like you and me would need.

Rest honors God’s way and design; we give glory to Him when we follow His command to rest.

***

The WHAT

True rest includes pausing to reflect upon our work.  For we were also created for purpose-driven Christ-honoring work, yet not without pause.  Stepping back before moving on is simply wise.  It’s not waiting until we’re completely exhausted and burnt out, then finally collapsing.  God’s example in Creation offers a daily rhythm of reflection to think upon and consider our work — to name what is good.

We Moms have trouble with this, at least I do.  I lean more towards thinking on all that still needs doing instead of celebrating what has been accomplished.  But still, we should think on what is lovely, excellent and praise-worthy :: yes, this includes our work!

Because the nature is reflection, a midday or late afternoon break is what I’m suggesting.  A short time of 15 to 30 minutes to separate morning work from evening work, to refuel a little before going on.

Now, no need to cancel vacation plans, a visit with a friend, or digging into a good book.  Rest can and should also include leisure; engaging in pleasurable activities or interests provides refreshment as well.  Jesus often took his disciples away and on one occasion fixed breakfast on the beach for them — sounds nice and leisurely to me!

The HOW

What if you did just that?  Created a space and time for moments of daily pause, of quiet?  With the purpose of reflection upon your work, and for a bit of leisure as well.  But, let’s be very real.  Many of us are in a season of fullness, of numerous responsibilities.  Just how do we accomplish such a task?

I’m sounding like a broken record, but the first step is believing that you should.  Then quickly following up with believing that there is a way, that it is possible.  Before we get to the nitty gritty and some suggestions (that’s an upcoming post!), may I encourage your heart?  Too often, we jump on a band-wagon thinking…

“Yeah, this is just what I need!!  Tomorrow, right now, I’ll start this daily pause thing! WHOOP!, Whoop, whoop….fizzle, fizzle.  Oh, well.  I guess that just didn’t work for me.”

End of story.  That’s living intensely, not intentionally.

Maybe you’re ready to start now, by all means…move forward!  But, maybe you just need to take a baby step, to consider just how this all might work.  To prepare and plan for making room.

Begin with prayer.  Asking God to convince your heart of this need.  Stretching your faith muscles to believe it can happen.

Take an inventory of your days.  Nothing fancy, just be more aware of how things flow, thinking about when and where a pause would most benefit your schedule and routine.

In the comments, feel free to offer thoughts :: do you see a need for this in your days?  what would you view being a hindrance to taking time for a daily pause — where could you use suggestions or help?  

We’ll seek to answer or address questions in the next post.  I absolutely do not have all of the answers!  But, I’m convinced we can learn and grow together in this community.

To God be all glory….

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