Thursday, April 28, 2011

Teach me Jesus Thursdays... Parenting Philosophy

I'm linking in with a fellow blogger and dear friend at To Show Them Jesus on Thursdays to share thoughts, struggles, and ideas on raising our children to know and follow Christ.  Would you join us?

To Show Them Jesus

This week I am finding it hard to talk about parenting as I am facing a challenging time with my three year old.  I truly feel inadequate, but I'll give it a shot and look forward to feedback as well as ideas of how you may be raising up your children.

This week our focus is on Parenting Philosophy.  The perfectionist side of me began parenting reading books and articles online in a search of doing things the "right" way.  I quickly learned that there are many styles of parenting and many personalities of families as I discovered that I would not be able to find a perfect solution, be a perfect parent, or raise perfect kids.   Okay, you can stop laughing now. :)

I gave up the search for perfection, overwhelmed by the myriad of opinions on the subject of raising children. I've read a few books, but am most reliant on God to work in and through me and my family to accomplish His purpose for us.

Our philosophy of parenting is still in the works.  Here are a few core beliefs that drive us:

The grace of God shown through Christ.  Our greatest hope is that God would draw our children's heart to Himself.  It is our prayer that God's grace would transform each of our hearts and that we would live out that grace to extend it to each other.  I'm not great at the latter statement.

God's compassion for His people throughout the world.  We hope that our family would be able to give freely of all that we have to benefit God's kingdom.  We want to raise our children to love selflessly and give abundantly, living a lifestyle of sacrifice and building treasures in Heaven rather than clinging to things on Earth.

Heart's of service.  This works closely with compassion.  We hope that we will not just feel for those in need, nor just give our possessions, but that we would give our lives as well.  Starting with a servant's heart for each other and extending to our church, community, and world, we hope to raise our children to look beyond themselves and give of themselves for the mission of the Gospel, fulfilling the Great Commission.

Creative Expression and Unique Giftings.  We hope to encourage our children in discovering and developing their unique giftings whatever they may be.  Also, we want for them to be able to appreciate giftings of others as God has made each of us uniquely in His image.

A growing love for God and life of pursuing Him.  We hope that our children will grow to love God with all their heart, soul, and mind.  We hope to instill spiritual disciplines in them that will develop their relationship with our Father. We hope that what they learn from us grows into a life of pursuing God and growing in grace, that their time under our roof may just be the beginning.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Storms of Blessing.

Storms of Blessing, could this be an oxymoron?  My heart doesn't seem to accept that phrase naturally.  Storms thunder and shake and destroy, don't they?  The storms of life shake the very foundation of our being.  A blessing? Really? Well, maybe they have gotten a bad reputation.  Certainly, some people pray for storms and for rain, the land depends on them to provide nourishment and growth.  Without them life would be impossible.

I'm posting at Life River Studios Today.  To read more click HERE

Monday, April 25, 2011

Gratitude list.

358. Leaving the laundry to go to the park
359. Tacos for dinner
360. Healthy Baby Girl, Aiden Young
361. Andrew playing football at the park.
362. Sand in dumptrucks
363. Plastic shovels
364. Boys watching diggers
365. Wooden truck to climb on
366. Still waters
367.  Boy spinning, jumping, climbing, running
368. Being pushed in the swing by 3 year old.
369.  A quiet drive due to boys falling asleep.
370.  Taking the long way to make the moment last.
371.  Good Friday and Psalm 22 speaking to me
372.  Daddy taking 3 year old out for ice cream after dinner
373.  Memory game scattered on floor.
374.  God has entrusted me with the message of the Gospel
375.  Amazing Love
376.  He was forsaken so that I will never be
377.  God's Spirit at work
378.  Resting in his embrace
379.  Ice cold water quenching my thirst and reminding me of the living water and my dire need to be filled
380.  Easter celebration with my dear church family
381.  He is Risen!
382.  Husband's helping hand around the house
383.  Boys fishing
384.  A walk to feed farm animals
385. Pinwheels
386.   Baby being introduced to dirt and grass

387.  "God sets the lonely in families" Psalm 68:6 a

Thursday, April 21, 2011

To show them Jesus


"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." Deuteronomy 6: 5-9

On Thursdays I'll be linking into as we explore ways to share Christ with our little ones.  

I confess that I don't nearly have this figured out.  However, we have taken steps and made progress in teaching our son about Christ.

Currently there are a few things that we do:
When we rise:
As we eat breakfast I read The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name, by Sally Lloyd-Jones, to my 3 year old son.  Every story focuses on Christ.  My son loves this time together.  Recently I asked Him what Jesus did.  He replied, "Jesus rescues us." When I asked him what He rescues us from, he said "Us."  This book has helped instill the truth of the Gospel.  I pray that the Holy Spirit works in my son's heart for him to fully receive the grace of God offered in Christ.

When we sit:
I'm not sure if a three-year old actually sits for long.  Usually, sitting involves eating.  We pray at all meal times and are teaching him to do so as well.  We will also talk about our day, which sometimes leads into conversation about how God has blessed us in various ways.  This time also provides a good time to talk about what we've been reading in the mornings.

Also, as I jot down notes for my gratitude list, I often ask him what he is thankful for and tell him that all of our gifts come from God.

When we walk:
For us "walk" could be substituted with "hop, run, crawl, skip," or any other action word. :)  At my son's age we talk a lot about kindness and sharing and we do a lot of disciplining.  Both provide fertile ground to plant God's Word in his heart. 

As we talk about sharing, I remind him of all of the ways that we have been blessed by others sharing with us.  I also remind him that all of our toys are gifts from God and that we can bless others by sharing them or by giving them away.

I have not done this every time, but often when I discipline him, I share the Gospel with him. I explain that when we do wrong things, we have to be disciplined.  We talk about our means of discipline and I tell him that God also has to punish us when we do wrong.  I then tell him that Jesus came to take our punishment for us, because God loves us so much and forgives us every time we do wrong.  I find that my son listens best at this time.  Also, sharing the Gospel puts my heart in the right place and I am less angry at him for whatever it is that I am punishing him for.

In addition, we talk about God's creation.  It could be an awesome sunset, a beautiful day at the park, a picked flower (weed), the beach, or any of the ways that we enjoy being outside.  As I admire the beauty around me, I will talk about how awesome and beautiful it is and that our amazing God is the master artist and creator.

When we lie down:
Our bedtime routine always ends in prayer.  He is starting to pray regularly during this time. It's often cute the things that he prays and it's awesome to hear him have a conversation with God. 

What ways do you apply this verse in your house?  Would you join me  at Teach them Jesus Thursdays?

To Show Them Jesus

Monday, April 18, 2011

A walk with Him.

In times of brokenness, nature  beckons me to draw closer to God. God invites me to see glimpses of His glory all around me as He opens my eyes to truly see. 

The day I took these photos God gave me glimpses of Himself and it turned from a day lost in myself to one focused on Christ, His suffering, His victory, His love, and His call for me to follow.

Will you walk with me and share in what He has done?

"And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!" And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him."
Matthew 27: 28-31

This tree was uprooted and leaning at just the right angle that I could imagine someone straining to carry it.

"As they went out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. They compelled this man to carry his cross. And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots. Then they sat down and kept watch over him there. And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” 
Matthew 27: 32-37

"So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha." John 19:17

I cannot say enough about this picture.  The scar, the crimson red.  He captured my attention with this little leaf.  While pulling out of the parking lot, I spotted it, halted, leapt out and snapped this shot.  I stand in awe to see that God paints His story throughout creation. 

 "Surely he has borne our griefs

and carried our sorrows;

yet we esteemed him stricken,

smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions;

he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,

and with his stripes we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray;

we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him

the iniquity of us all." Isaiah 53: 4-6

The heart embraced in crimson points to how great His love for us is. 

  "The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him."
Psalm 103: 8-13

He is risen! He stands victorious over sin and death.  He rose out of the darkness and back into God's glorious presence.  Through Him we share the victory!

 "For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, 
so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." 
Matthew 12:40

"But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, 
because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him." Acts 2:24

"He will swallow up death forever;
and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,
and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,
for the Lord has spoken.
 It will be said on that day,
'Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us.
This is the Lord; we have waited for him;
let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.'” 
Isaiah 25: 8-9

The story does not end with the Resurrection.  Christ comes back to comfort His followers, promise His return, and give them direction.  His last words tell His followers their new role of sharing the message of His victory over sin and death so that we could have new life.

"Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28: 16-19

"For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts." 1 Thessalonians 2:4 NLT

"And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it." Luke 9: 23-24

More grace received

"Thanksgiving--giving thanks in everything--prepares the way that God might show us His fullest salvation in Christ.  The act sacrificing thank offerings to God-- even for the bread and cup of cost, for cancer and crucifixion--this prepares the way for God to show us His fullest salvation from bitter, angry, resentful lives and from all sin that estranges us from Him." Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are

342.  A broken a.c. that reminds me of luxury I take for granted.
343.  Sharing Jesus with my 3 year old
344.  Bags, still unpacked, of dirty clothes that remind me my husband is home
345.  Boy covered from head to toe in dirt, evidence of playing hard
346.  Finally, a baby girl baby shower
347.  An afternoon of unexpected rest
348.  We have a living hoPe (1 Peter 1:3)
349.  Psalm 27:10
350.  God has chosen me, called me to Himself, and adopted me as His child
351.  I have all I need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3)
352.  Seeing God's glory in nature.
353.  Father/son camping trips
354.  Hope fulfilled, an adoption celebration
355.  Progress on  developing my website.
356.  My church family
357.  This week to reflect and remember what Christ has done.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Though greatly blessed with two wonderful boys, I'll always remember the baby I never held.  I thank God for all that He has done. I praise Him that His ways are best.  I hope and long for the day I'll meet Ashlynn Haven when I go Home. 

Truth that overcomes

Lying on his tummy my four month old son focuses on the rattle, his head bobbling a little as he reaches forward.  He swats at it several times, mostly missing the desired object, but never taking his eye off of it.  With all of his strength he determines to have it.  Finally his swats aim dead on and he clinches and clings to it.

This paints a picture of my struggle to know God intimately.  I want to know Him, I try with all that I am, and yet I miss the mark so often.  I'm thankful for His grace and mercy and that He who began the good work in me will bring it to perfection (Phil 1:6).  I have been fighting idols in my heart and habits of negative thinking.  Why this struggle?  Why am I this way?  I trace roots back to those before me, empty with nothing to give.  Lost, seeking and searching, living to survive.  Emptiness breeds emptiness and I long to be full. Alcohol, abuse, and abandonment dig a chasm at the core of who I am.

I know Christ, my Redeemer, Brother, and Healer.  I know Love, but do I accept it at my core?  How often do I let the chasm define me and direct me.  In distrust of love do I turn away from Love?  I struggle to find Him, to grasp a glimpse of Him, and to cling to Him.

When the truth of my past and the pain that it holds surfaces, victory awaits over it.  Jesus, the Truth (John 14:6), combats all the little truths that haunt the weary heart.  I need only turn to Him, fall at His feet, confess my endless sins and offer all that I am (or am not) in exchange for all that He is.  My nourishment, my fulfillment can be found in Him alone.  Everything else falls short and only feeds the chasm.  He has come to bring life and bring it to the FULL (John 10:10).

How can the wounded one at the core of me learn to trust and accept all that is good?  I've been reading several books in addition to the Bible to help with this battle. I think often I read God's Word and believe it to an extent, but don't fully accept it for myself.  One suggestion offered in, Please Don't Say Need Me, is to make God's promises personal by inserting your name.  At first this seemed kind of silly, but I have found this helpful in allowing God's Word to seep into deeper levels of who I am.  In a sense it's like speaking Scripture to myself.

I find an endless list of promises that bring hope in God's Word. Here are a few promises for the battle:
"May the God of your hope so fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing (bubbling over) with hope. " Romans 15: 13

"So let us seize and hold fast and retain without wavering the hope we cherish and confess and our acknowledgement of it, for He Who promised is reliable (sure) and faithful to His word." Hebrews 10: 23

"Wait and hope for and expect the Lord; be brave and of good courage and let your heart be stout and enduring. Yes, wait for and hope for and expect the Lord." Psalm 27: 14

Also, As I learn more about God and who He is, His grandeur diminishes anything that stands in His place in my heart.  "To know the attributes of God-his characteristics-is to know he is trustworthy.  As you get to know Him, you will be able to relax with him, rely on him, and deepen your relationship until your longing to be loved, valued and secure is satisfied in him." Jan Silvious Please Don't Say You Need Me: Biblical Answers for Codependency

I am learning to meditate on who He is and worship Him for who He is and what He has done. Healing takes place as I gain a right view of Him and of myself as His child.

As Easter approaches, I rejoice in the victory Christ holds through the life He lived perfectly and that He gave his life sacrificially on the cross for me.  The victory is ours through Him!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Gifts of Grace.

"'Be thou exalted' is the language of victorious spiritual experience.  It is a little key to unlock the door to great treasures of grace.  It is central in the life of God in the soul.  Let the seeking man reach a place where life and lips join to say continually 'Be thou exalted' and a thousand minor problems will be solved at once." A.W. Tozer The Pursuit of God with Study Guide

It has become my prayer that He would be exalted, that He would be at the center of my life.  All of these gifts flow from Him and to Him. I'm so thankful for such a faithful Father.

324. Each first.  First time in a swing.
325.  Three year old chasing lizards.
326.  An abundance of real friends
327.  A Treasure worth selling everything for.
328.  Brothers playing.

329.  Sharing Hats

330. Puzzles with 3 year old.
331.  Vulnerability among friends
332.  Late night glow of my desk lamp

333. Baby boy's laughter.
334. God's goodness.
335.  Communion with Him.
336.  The freedom offered in Christ.
337.  He has made me glad
338.  Time to run errands without kids in tow.
339.  Stir-fry made by husband.
340.  An undisturbed nap.
341.  A new senior pastor for our church.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Thanksgiving in uncertainty.

Today we'll find out if my husband goes to work next week.  It's all been up in the air as we wait for the government leaders to decide on the annual budget.  If no decision is made, there will be a government shut down until one is in place.

There are many reasons I thank God for this trial.
1. Uncertainty drives me to trust the One who is certain.
2. A fragile personal income (not knowing if we will have a lapse in paychecks) has caused me to spend less.  This battles my spending addiction which has flared up as I deal with a traveling husband.
3.  He still has a job to go back to once the budget is settled.
4.  We may get to spend much needed time together as a family.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Gratitude list.

"No one need be poor, because if he chooses, he can have Jesus for his own property and possession.  No one need be downcast, for Jesus is the joy of heaven, and it is His joy to enter into sorrowful hearts.  We can exaggerate about many things; but we can never exaggerate our obligation to Jesus, or the compassionate abundance of the love of Jesus to us.  All our lives long we might talk of Jesus, and yet we should never come to an end of the sweet things that might be said of Him.  Eternity will not be long enough to learn all He is, or praise Him for all He has done, but then that matters not; for we shall be always with Him, and we desire nothing more." A. W. Tozer The Pursuit of God

306. Dinner brought from a friend
307. Spontaneous playdates
308. God is near.
309. ALL things work TOGETHER according to His plan and will
310. The promise of healing and restoration
311. Quiet mornings before my boys rise.
312. Savings for times of need.
313. Opportunities to give
314. Bible study
315. a foster care celebration/shower
316. Baby's cries to tell me what he needs
317.  My church family loving on me and the boys while Adam travels
318.  Time to myself thanks to #317
319.  Rebuilding a friendship
320.  God at work
321.  Stargazing in awe
322.  Learning to adore Him
323.  Books.  New favorite- Pursuit of God by Tozer


"Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs." 1 Timothy 6: 6-7

This passage has me asking myself, "What do I chase after?  What is that one thing that I think I can't live without."

I often watch home improvement type shows.  I love to get ideas about the home.  While I do learn sometimes, often it can be a distraction from what's truly important.  Let's just say, it's easy to want more when I see more and dream more as I watch certain shows.  Also, I feel a tension as I see people searching for the PERFECT house or vacation house.  I get frustrated with the materialism all around and know that I am no exception.

Maybe it's time to be more guarded in the shows that I watch knowing that they impact my level of contentment. This is, after all, more important than having the perfect updated kitchen.

There is only one thing worth chasing, one that I cannot live without.  Lord, teach me to chase after you!

"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified." 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Project Simplify- week four, of the heart

SO, this week I did work on the pantry and the fridge.  Really.  I did.  However, in the middle of it all, my fridge broke.  On top of a whirlwind week of husband travel, Nana in town, and Andrew's birthday we dealt with replacing the fridge on my husband's lone day off.  Therefore, I don't have anything to show for this week's project, but I wanted to share how cleaning and simplifying impacts my spiritual growth and falls into place in God's work in my heart.

Project Simplify--my innermost heart.

By nature, clutter follows me.  I've loved being a part of project simplify.  It's enabled me to push myself to finish areas I generally only begin to organize.  When I'm cleaning and organizing I sense a greater lesson to be learned in the process. God speaks of the clutter in my heart.

I organize, I toss, I file, I clean, I see what fits, I inspect what is rotten, all to make a better home for my family and a better home to share with others.

WOW! Do you see what I am seeing?  With all this focus on my home (a very needed focus), a bigger need comes into focus.  Residing within me there are things that are in disorder, things that no longer fit, things that are filthy, and things that have gone rotten.  My heart, a temple of the living God, needs to be simplified and reconstructed.  Things and people are in the Holy of Holies, God's place.  I have been fighting and working with everything that I am and more importantly with all His energy, to get things in order.

But how?  Sin patterns learned from my youth root themselves deeply and threaten to strangle what is pure.  How can I change them?  My flesh is weak.  I cannot.  There's such a big mess that I wouldn't know where to begin.  One holds the power and the strength to break me and mold me.  One.  My heart simplifies to beat for One.  I fall before Him.  I cry, weep even, I grieve, and I let go with great struggle.  Daily I come empty and wait for Him to fill.

I find that in giving up one idol, another stands in line to fill the place.  I hunger for something other, for one who completes and I turn to God's Word to fight off the temptation to be filled with any other.  He speaks and I want to know His language.  I want for it to be so deeply rooted that it overcomes the strangling roots of self that tend to take over.

God shows me progress, in a humbled posture.  Though I'm worn out and bruised and weary, He brings joy and renewal for the battle. I can sense that He is near.

This is the hardest cleaning job I've ever been involved in.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A different story Part two

My wedding story... (see Part one first)

Let's see... where was I.  Oh yes, we planned the perfect wedding.  But no matter how perfect our plans seem to be, sometimes God has other plans.

In late August 2005 a huge storm brewing in the Gulf of Mexico forced us to evacuate the city to Twin Lakes, a Christian camp where I had worked as a camp counselor.  Many of our friends and community were with us, including my pastor.  At the time, evacuation seemed to me a big nuisance.  We had just evacuated for a previous storm that turned into nothing to us and a trip that would usually take 2 hours took an entire day.  The day before we left, we moved all of my belongings into an apartment that we would live in after we married.  All I wanted to do was stay and settle into the new place.  Good thing that my fiance had better judgement than me!

We began talking about our wedding plans the night before Katrina hit.  Our city was in the bulls eye and we knew that New Orleans would not be able to recover quickly if hit.  We knew that all we had would be lost and we didn't know where each of us would go if that happened.  We decided that if Katrina hit, we would be together as we started rebuilding life rather than apart.  On August 29th, our original wedding plans were literally wiped out. On August 30th, as we were all trying to figure out where we would go from there, Adam and I told our pastor of our plans.  None of us knew where we would go next, but Adam and I knew we would be in it together.

My friends planned a great service as Adam and I drove to town to find a place to take showers (there was no electricity or running water at the camp due to the storm).  When we made it back to the camp, we were amazed at how everybody worked to bring this together.  The kitchen workers brought a few wedding dresses that fit me, one very similar to what I had chosen.  They made a cake (in the dark).  We had juice for the toast.  We had a full wedding service with a friend playing guitar to lead us in worship.  My "big brother" walked me down the aisle and gave me away (this was in the original plan).

After the wedding and reception we took wedding photos around the lake. We stayed our first wedding night at the camp in the new Pastoral retreat cabins.  Very luxurious, even without hot water and lights. :)

Here we are cutting the cake.  Notice the floral arrangement made up of debris from the hurricane.  I had a bouquet to match.
The toast with our camp juice.

The vows.  Me in dress with bare feet. Adam in shorts.

With such a fun story, it would be cool if I could say that we lived happily ever after.  But anyone who has been married a day, knows that in real life marriage is no fairy tale.  We are two great sinners saved by an amazing God with even greater grace.  Marriage has been a place of refinement for both of us, as God works to change us more and more into the image of His Son... I suppose this calls for a part three.  :)
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