Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Lessons from the old farmhouse

"Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam,

Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home!

A charm from the skies seems to hallow us there,

Which, seek through the world, is ne'er met with elsewhere.

Home, home, sweet home!

There's no place like home. "

Lessons from the old farmhouse:

1. We CAN survive without a dishwasher.

2. Being cold will NOT kill us. That's what snuggies are for. :)

3. Free range chickens are the best! We will own our own some day.

4. Being hot in the summer will NOT kill us. People did it for years. Yes, some of them died, but we did not. :)

5. Water in the basement is good...it kills the mice before they get upstairs. :)

Monday, December 26, 2011


Before and After photos of the tragedy..I mean, haircut..that happened at my house tonight. :( I love those curls, but daddy said they were getting too long. sniff..sniff.. At least, he's still adorable. But, whose hair will I play with now?

"Who is that in the mirror?" :)

The Journey Ahead

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas. We kept it simple and enjoyed our family (extended and immediate) and are so thankful for all God has given us in them. We realize how truly blessed we are. The delight of children make Christmas, doesn't it? I sat back this year, watching my children, seeing how they are growing so quickly, and enjoying the moments.

Well..once again, I haven't been on here in awhile. Not sure what happens to me...I suppose life and it's busy-ness, dishes, laundry, homeschooling, and sometimes..I just can't find the words to write (or the energy). This has been a good season of life, but it's had some hard times. (don't all seasons?)

Don't know why I don't write in the good and hard times..maybe I'm afraid still to be "too real." Maybe it's wisdom that keeps me from blogging in those times. :) And, truthfully, sometimes I just "crash" at night and can't move, let alone come up with enough brain cells to write! :)

We are now entering a new season of life. I'll blog about that soon..(when I get the courage?). :) Maybe when we're in that season, and I'm more at rest. But, for now, I will share what I read the other day...seemed to be a word from God for me. I took it to heart, and am doing my best to rest in it. Sometimes there is rest along our journey.

"The journey is too great for thee." (I Kings 19:7)

"And what did God do with His tired servant? Gave him something good to eat, and put him to sleep. Elijah had done splendid work, and had run alongside of the chariot in his excitement, and it had been too much for his physical strength, and the reaction had come on, and he was depressed. They physical needed to be cared for. What many people want is sleep, and the physical ailment attended to. There are grand men and women who get to where Elijah was-under the juniper tree! and it comes very soothingly to hear the words of the Master: 'The journey is too great for thee, and I am going to refresh you.' Let us not confound physical weariness with spiritual weakness."

(from Streams in the Desert)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

New Vocalpoint E-Store

Right now, you can get FREE Shipping with a
$25 purchase, 15% OFF and FREE gift wrap* at the eStore,
featuring P&G brands! (The eStore is an independent online retailer,
owned and operated by eStore Retail Services,
featuring P&G brands. Now for the holidays you
can get FREE Shipping with a $25 purchase, as
well as 15% OFF and FREE gift wrap for
Vocalpoint members.)


Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Conversations with my 5-year-old

This morning, I was reading my 5 year old boy his Bible story. We were reading about Jacob being tricked into marrying Leah, then working seven more years for Rachel. I asked him how he would feel about daddy having two wives. He said, "Mom, I think ants don't worship God." "Why?", I asked. "Because I think that ants have, like, a thousand wives," he said, "and also I never see ants go to church...I think they worship an ant." :)

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

1000 Gifts #388-448

"Oh, for more holiness! Oh, for more of God in my soul! Oh this pleasing pain! It makes my soul press after God!" (David Brainerd)

388. God allows earthly means to continue to 'fail us' so that He can show us HIS love
389. money for a library membership (since we moved out of the 'township'). This was a gift.
391. that this world does not bring me happiness, no matter how hard I keep looking
392. that He is opening my eyes, even when it's hard
393. good, tear-filled, late night talks with my husband
394. God's provision for our schoolyear
395. the sounds of Lizzie and Shane playing "wii football"
396. gluten free donuts on a Sunday morning
397. weeping may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning
398. legos all over the floor
399. clean, folded clothes on the stairs
400. a sink full of dishes
401. crumbs on the dining room table
402. holding hands
403. that my mom and dad were instruments used to show me (and tell me) God's love for me-at a time I felt 'forsaken'
404. Robyn watching my kids when I went to the doctor
405. little ones in bathtubs
406. cuddle time in bed with the kids
407. free corn from the neighbors
408. Indiana beach trip with the kids
409. playing games with the kids
410. tears and healing
411. he holds me and tells me it's okay and he loves me
412. 'fear' is breaking
413. rainy days
414. 'life does not lie in the abundance of possessions' (the reminder from God's word for me)
415. hot showers
416. one toilet (it beats NO toilets!)
417. his strong arms
418. Myra opening her heart to me
419. a good dinner/fellowship with Jacob and Jama
420. how my children sat quietly at the bank
421. we got the shortsale paperwork done, and were accepted
422. our church
423. some sweet friendships forming
424. a quiet walk
425. the warmth of the sunshine on my skin
426. teaching my girls to crochet
427. opening doors I didn't think I wanted open
428. enough to share
429. rest for the weary
430. honesty
431. how Nehi made us laugh
432. the smell of freshly baked (GF!) orange pound cake
433. the grace to FIGHT
434. our girls making us breakfast
435. seeing my children reading
436. beautiful pain
437. a visit with our family
438. free corn, tomatoes, and zucchini from my sister
439. pinata in the rain
440. 18 pieces of clothing at Goodwill for $30
441. time with my boy at night to rub his back and tummy
442. a good conversation with my sweet mother-in-law, and the love God is restoring in that relationship
443. kids laughing
444. $1 amish-made bread to feed my kids breakfast for 2 days
445. a day out with my sister
446. more tomatoes, zucchini, and potatoes from my sister's garden
447. good sermons, not to make us 'feel good', but to make us more like Christ
448. no anxiety that day

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Am I Sheltering My Child Too Much?

This article came in my inbox this morning, and I thought it was too good not to share. I hope it is okay to cut and paste this! :)

Am I Sheltering My Child Too Much?
by Gena Suarez

"Do you "shelter" your children? We're finding that's a bad word in some circles. Something is creeping into the church (and even the homeschooling community), and it isn't biblical. It is an "anti-sheltering campaign" of sorts, and it's full of holes. Think about it. What does it mean to shelter? Protect. Defend. Guard. Preserve. Watch over. Shield. Safeguard. Hmmmm, so far so good, right? Sure, until "Christian pop psychology" comes in and tells us we should allow our children to taste a little of the world in order to understand it or pray for it ... that we should not "over-shelter" them. Nonsense.

What's the opposite of shelter? Expose. Endanger. We parents are called to be like our Father in Heaven. He is the greatest "Shelterer" there ever was, and it is us He shelters - or watches over; protecting us, preserving us, shielding us. Is God missing something, here? Should He instead follow the advice of those (shamefully, some of these are even pastors!) who say to lay off a bit? Thankfully, the Lord is a bit wiser than that. Praise Him for this! Glory to God who knows how to parent (shelter) us perfectly!

May we as parents follow this model - His model. Let's continue to shelter (love) our children as He loves us. Dismiss the garbage that crawls in; don't buy it. We're promised there will be false teachers, liars in the church (and there are many). I want to keep my eyes focused on Christ, come what may.

By the way, someone once shared with me that when it comes to parenting, she would rather err on the side of being a little too careful/sheltering than to err on the wrong side. Paul and I agree wholeheartedly with this. We would prefer to be a tad "too" protective than to make a major mistake we can't take back once it's done. We've learned some hard lessons over the years.

And as our kids get much older, as we see the Truth in them growing as they take on their own relationship with the Lord, complete with Godly convictions, we can loosen up the reins a little. There's no set formula for this, though, so don't let anyone try and give you one. You know your children better than anyone, and can assess their maturity in the Lord best....But again, be careful. Do it slowly and if you're going to "go overboard", do so on the conservative end. Don't err on the wrong side.

And just to be clear, this doesn't mean to stop sheltering them. During the short time we have them, we have a responsibility to protect them and to guard them against ungodly influences and worldly displays the best we can. The wisest thing we can do right now is to soak them in God's word. Pour it into their hearts. Train them up in His ways so that as they get older and begin to leave the nest, they walk in Truth and can go out and start families, bringing their own children up (tightly to their hips) in the love and admonition of their Lord.

May your sweet children rise up and call you blessed for your faithfulness and hard work in raising them up in Christ. It's not easy, it's often thankless (for years), and you can fall into doubts, especially when you come up against a whining 14 or 16 year old who wants his way (and wants YOU out of his way). Don't give into the doubts; that's a trap. Rather, lovingly stand firm. God stands firmly beside us, sheltering us. May we do the same for our children.

"Glory to God who knows how to parent (shelter) us perfectly!"
Parents: Keep sheltering them. You are bringing them up in the love and admonition of the Lord, not in the latest "homeschool philosophy." God's word trumps any speaker! It dwarfs any author! May you be blessed as you continue to walk in obedience of His word.

Lord, thank you for sheltering me. Please never stop. "Over-shelter" if You will (if there is such a thing). Fine with me!

Over-protect, over-defend, over-guard me; please do! I'll take it all, Lord. Keep me tight to Your side. I'm safe in that place. There, I can breathe and thrive. It's where I find my hope in Christ.

For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy. - Psalms 61:3

Action point: Do you need to repent to someone today for looking down on (judging) them? Have you been a thorn in another parent's side over this issue? Who have you scolded or cryptically "spoken to" about their "overbearance" in regards to their own children? It might be time to humbly pick up the phone or shoot off an email.

Parents who strongly shelter their children are to be praised, not made to feel inadequate or odd. That's the world lying to us, there.

And this world is not our home. "

Paul and Gena Suarez reside in beautiful eastern Tennessee, where they homeschool(ed) their six children: Paul (21), Luke (19), Levi (17), Julia Rachel (14), Susanna Hope (3) and Chloe Abigail (18 months). They enjoy long country drives in the van while listening to books on CD, hanging out with good friends, and staying up late. By the grace of God, the Suarez family publishes The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC.


R.C. Sproul, Jr. says it so well.." Clearly there is an appropriate kind of sheltering. When those who are opposed to homeschooling accuse me of sheltering my children, my reply is always, 'What are you going to accuse me of next, feeding and clothing them?'...One of the most compelling arguments I've ever heard for homeschooling is this one given against it: 'My child will rebel if I homeschool him.' The solution for parents who have lost control is never to give up more control. That our children identify more with a circle of friends, a peer group, than they do with our family is the problem, not the solution. If your daughter is more committed to this alternative family of her friends down at the mall, she needs to be removed from that family, and brought back into the repentant family that allowed things to get this far."

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

New Schoolroom Curtains

In our rental home, we are blessed to have an extra room for our schoolroom. However, it's the room you have to enter our house through (not good, since it's not always 'neat'). And, it's all pine, so while it's cozy, it's a bit dark sometimes. So, we decided to give the room some color. (I must add that part of this was due to being at my friend, Meg's, house and seeing how she made her schoolroom bright and cheery-made me realize how 'dull' ours was-not very inspiring). So, we headed out to the fabric store a couple weeks ago and-miracle of miracles-my children ALL decided on one fabric! I'm not sure they have ever been able to agree on anything prior to this. :) It's such a fun fabric. I'm hoping, down the road, to make some chair cushions with some coordinating fabric. For now, I am enjoying our little owl curtains. :)

Break in the Day (Dance your pants off!)

We were in the middle of our first day of school yesterday and needed a break! So, we put on some music and danced til we were too tired to dance anymore! :) Sometimes, you just have to dance. :)

First Day of School 2011 (part 2)

First Day of School August 2011

"How was your first day of school?"

Lizzie-"Awesome! I loved it, but I don't like math."

Myra-"Okay. I'm tired."

Monday, August 22, 2011

First Day of Kindergarten 2011

Mom-"How was your first day of school?"

My Boy
-"Nice! I thought it wouldn't be fun, but it was awesome." :)

Today was the first day of the 2011-2012 school year for us. First day of kindergarten for the boy. Honestly, I was a bit anxious about "starting all over" again this year. I mean, my oldest has made it to sixth grade-our eighth year of homeschooling-and the thought of starting all over was a bit overwhelming to me. However, I must say it was so much fun today with him! The little crafts, the fun books. A different pace. He has been sick the last four days, running a high fever, but in between Tylenol doses, he had some energy and did really well. Poor baby! :) We may have to take tomorrow off and go to the doctor. Here's a few pictures from our first day.

We didn't have peppercorns, so we used cloves! They worked!

"A is for Astronaut", so we made a rocket ship with pictures of things that start with A!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

When Sorrow and Joy Meet

I'm sitting here this morning, not at church, because my sweet boy has had a fever and cough the past few days. It's a precious time in a mother's life, to take care of your sick little ones. I'd rather them not be sick, mind you, but there is something about comforting a sick little one, holding them in your arms, tenderly nurturing them. It always makes me realize what affection I have for my children, and what a blessing they are.

This post has nothing to do, really, with my son being sick, but since I'm home, it does give me a chance to post. I read this yesterday in Streams In the Desert, a devotional I have read day by day for the last 17 years, (I never tire of it) and I thought it was such a beautiful reminder to us that I wanted to share.

2 Corinthians 6:10 "As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing."

"Sorrow was beautiful, but her beauty was the beauty of the moonlight shining through the leafy branches of the trees in the wood, and making little pools of silver here and there on the soft green moss below.

When sorrow sang, her notes were like the low sweet call of the nightingale, and in her eyes was the unexpectant gaze of one who has ceased to look for coming gladness. She could weep in tender sympathy with those who weep, but to rejoice with those who rejoice was unknown to her.

Joy was beautiful, too, but his was the radiant beauty of the summer morning. His eyes still held the glad laughter of childhood, and his hair had the glint of the sunshine's kiss. When Joy sang his voice soared upward as the lark's, and his step was the step of a conqueror who has never known defeat. He could rejoice with all who rejoice, but to weep with those who weep was unknown to him.

'But we can never be united,' said Sorrow wistfully.

'No, never.' And Joy's eyes shadowed as he spoke. 'My path lies through the sunlit meadows, and the sweetest roses bloom for my gathering, and the blackbirds and thrushes await my coming to pour forth their most joyous lays.'

'My path,' said Sorrow, turning slowly away,'leads through the darkening woods, with moon-flowers only shall my hands be filled. Yet the sweetest of all earth-songs-the love song of the night-shall be mine; farewell, Joy, farewell.'

Even as she spoke they became conscious of a form standing beside them; dimly seen, but of a Kingly Presence, and a great and holy awe stole over them as they sank on their knees before Him.

'I see Him as the King of Joy,' whispered Sorrow, ' for on His Head are many crowns, and the nailprints in His hands and feet are the scars of great victory. Before Him all my sorrow is melting away into deathless love and gladness, and I give myself to Him forever.'

'Nay, Sorrow,' said Joy softly,'but I see Him as the King of Sorrow, and the crown on His head is a crown of thorns and nailprints in His hands and feet are the scars of a great agony. I, too, give myself to Him forever, for sorrow with Him must be the sweeter than any joy I have ever known.'

'Then we are one in Him,' they cried in gladness,' for none but He could unite Joy and Sorrow.'

Hand in hand they passed out into the world to follow Him through storm and sunshine, in the bleakness of winter cold and the warmth of summer gladness, 'as sorrowful yet always rejoicing.'

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Anger (guest post)

photo © karimcgrathphotography 2011

By Myra

Everyone gets angry,and I mean everyone. Have you ever felt like you could never forgive? I have. These to two boys were not being nice to me recently,and I felt so angry that I thought I could never forgive them. But I realize anger does not solve anything. It just makes us hate,and not be ourselves. I was so angry at those boys, and I prayed that I would be able to forgive and I prayed and prayed and God made my heart soften. So...I might still think what they did was wrong but I forgive them, and I bet I might get angry at them again but I will turn to God not to my own flesh. If you feel angry at someone then I know some really good verses for you. "The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love,forgiving iniquity and transgression,but he will by no means clear the guilty,visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children,to the third and the fourth generation." Proverbs 16:32 "Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty and he who rules his spirit than he who takes the city." And, lastly, Nahum 1:3 "The Lord is slow to anger and great in power... " So, when you are angry turn to God he will soften your heart.

All That Is WIthin Me

"Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me, bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.

The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
his acts to the people of Israel.
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.
For he knows our frame,
he remembers that we are dust.

As for man, his days are like grass;
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more.
But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on
those who fear him,
and his righteousness to children's children,
to those who keep his covenant
and remember to do his commandments.
The Lord has established his throne in the heavens,
and his kingdom rules over all.

Bless the Lord, O you angels,
you mighty ones who do his word,
obeying the voice of his word!
Bless the Lord, all his hosts,
his ministers, who do his will!
Bless the Lord, all his works,
in all places of his dominion.
Bless the Lord, O my soul!"

Psalm 103

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Lessons From the Farm-Conversations with my 5 year old

"Mama," said Nehemiah, "why is that rooster always jumping on the hens backs?"

"Well, it's just a game they like to play," I said.

To which my son replied: "Well, mama, that must be their favorite game, because they play it every day!"


By Myra

I am an older sister to Lizzie, age 9,and Nehemiah, age 4. Sometimes they drive me nuts, like when they break my toys, and do not listen when I tell them something. And sometimes I wish they were never born. I know a lot of people feel this way and often I do to. But I realize they are a blessing from God. God gave them to me for a reason, like to teach me patience,and kindness,and many more reasons. I realize that when I treat them right it blesses God so much. Something could happen to them at any moment, so every night I tell them I love them. So treat your siblings in a way that honors God and seek to bless them too.

Computer Dangers and Resolutions

photo © karimcgrath 2009

"Here are five computer dangers and five resolutions (or vows) that we all might do well to make.

1. DANGER: The hook of constant curiosity

Personal computers offer a neverending possibility for discovery. Even the basic environment of Windows can consume hours and days and weeks of curious punching and experimenting. Color schemes, layouts, screensavers, shortcuts, icons, file-managing, calculators, clocks, calendars. Then there are the endless software applications consuming weeks of your time as they lure you into their intracacies. All this is very deceptive, giving the illusion of power and effectiveness, but leaving you with a feeling of emptiness and nervousness at the end of the day.

RESOLUTION: I will strictly limit my experimental time on the computer and devote myself more to truth than to technique.

2. DANGER: The empty world of virtual (un)reality

How sad to see brilliant, creative people pouring hours and days of their lives into creating cities and armies and adventures that have no connection with reality. We have one life to live. All our powers are given to us by the real God for the real world leading to a real heaven and real hell.

RESOLUTION: I will spend my constructive, creative energy not in the unreality of "virtual reality," but in the reality of the real world.

3. DANGER: Personal relations with my PC

Like no other invention, the personal computer comes closest to being like a person. You can play games with it. There are programs that will dialogue with you about your personality. It will talk to you. It will always be there for you. It is smarter than your dog. The great danger here is that we really become comfortable with this manageable electronic "person," and gradually drift away from the unpredictable, frustrating, sometimes painful dealings with human persons.

RESOLUTION: I will not replace the risk of personal relationships with impersonal electronic safety.

4. DANGER: The risk of tryst

'Tryst\trist\noun: an agreement (as between lovers) to meet.' Sexual affairs begin in private time together, extended conversation, and the sharing of the soul. It can now be done in the absolute exclusion of your private email screen name. It can be immediate and 'live,' or delayed and 'recorded.' You can think that 'it's just nothing'-until he or she shows up in town. It has happened already too many times.

RESOLUTION: I will not cultivate a one-on-one relationship with a person of the opposite sex other than my spouse. If I am single, I will not cultivate such a relationship with another person's spouse.

5. DANGER: Pc Porn

More insidious than x-rated videos, we can now not only watch, but join the perversity in the privacy of our own den. Interactive porn will allow you to 'do it' or make them 'do it' with your mouse. I have never seen it. Nor do I ever intend to. It kills the spirit. It drives God away. It depersonalizes people. It quenches prayer. It blanks out the Bible. It cheapens the soul. It destroys spiritual power. It defiles everything.

RESOLUTION: I will never open any program for sexual stimulation, nor purchase or download anything pornographic.

Computers and the Internet and email are remarkable gifts of God. Yes, they are threats to our schedules and our hearts and families-as is the telephone and the television and radio and a hundred handheld electronic games. All God's gifts can be made idols and even weapons of rebellion against the Giver. But they need not be.

Instead, we should ask with the psalmist,'What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits toward me?' (Psalm 116:12). And we should answer, as he does. 'I shall lift up the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord. I shall pay my vows to the Lord' (Psalm 116:13-14). In other words, when God helps us-as he does every moment of every day-we will not repay him with wage-labor to even our accounts; but we will (again and again) lift up an empty cup of need and call on him to fill it. And with that fresh gift of grace we will keep our resolution. Not in our strength. But in the 'cup-filling' strength of God. Sit before your computer. Make your vows. And lift up your cup."

(John Piper, Taste and See, pp. 138-140)

Monday, August 15, 2011


Lizzie wrote this little essay today and asked me if it was okay. It touched my heart, and I was amazed at her analogy (and, I must say, use of the wording in the last sentence). :) I had to share:

"I like puzzles, don't you? I don't know anyone who doesn't like puzzles. Do you know anyone who doesn't like puzzles? The hard puzzles are probably my favorite. Although, I just got done doing a 300 piece puzzle. My favorite puzzle has 1,000 pieces. But the hardest puzzle of all is to follow God in every thing that He does and is yet to do. Sin is an easy puzzle, but following God is the hardest puzzle. And sin will tempt you. It will tell you to just take it easy -like doing an easy puzzle- but you will not find delight in every easy thing that you do." (Lizzie, August 15, 2011)

His Mercy Poured Out on Us

photo © karimcgrath 2011

I read this this morning in my quiet time and was so encouraged by it. According to His own mercy He saved us. It's nothing we have done, not our good acts, not our striving for "righteousness." It's all Him. What freedom and joy that brings my heart!

"For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hurting one another. But, when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life." (Titus 3:3-7)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Trust in God, not Means

"'Why do I carry on this business, or why am I engaged in this trade of profession?' In most instances, so far as my experience goes, which I have gathered in my service among the saints during the last fifty-one years and a half, I believe the answer would be: 'I am engaged in my earthly calling, that I may earn the means of obtaining the necessaries of life for myself and family.' Here is the chief error from which almost all the rest of the errors, which are entertained by children of God, relative to their calling, spring. It is no right and scriptural motive, to be engaged in trade, or business, or profession, merely in order to earn the means for the obtaining of the necessaries of life for ourselves and family; but we should work, because it is the Lord's will concerning us. This is plain from the following passages: 1 Thess. 4:11-12; 2 Thess. 3:10-12; Eph. 4:28.

It is quite true that, in general, the Lord provides the necessaries of life by means of our ordinary calling; but that that is not THE REASON why we should work, is plain enough from the consideration, that if our possessing the necessaries of life depended upon our ability of working, we could never have freedom from anxiety, for we should always have to say to ourselves, and what shall I do when I am too old to work? or when by reason of sickness I am unable to earn my bread? But if on the other hand, we are engaged in our earthly calling, because it is the will of the Lord concerning us that we should work, and that thus laboring we may provide for our families and also be able to support the weak, the sick, the aged, and the needy, then we have good and scriptural reason to say to ourselves: should it please the Lord to lay me on a bed of sickness, or keep me otherwise by reason of infirmity or old age, or want of employment, from earning my bread by means of the labor of my hands, or my business, or my profession, He will yet provide for me."

(A Narrative of Some of the Lord's Dealing with George Mueller, Written by Himself, Jehovah Magnified. Addresses by George Mueller Complete and Unabridged, vol. 1, 393)

"...This truth applies not only to our vocation but to all areas of life. Moment by moment we use means to keep us alive and accomplish the purposes of God (food, houses, phones, cars, medicines, doctors, builders, advisers, etc). The lesson we need to learn is not to trust in these things when we use them, but to trust wholly in God. This applies also to the planning for our church. We plan. We budget. We teach and preach and counsel. The temptation is to continually trust in these things and not in God to work in and through and without these things. So as we dream toward ministry and missions, let us use means, but let us trust God. His promises are the only sure thing. All our means are fallible.

Mueller summed up the principle like this: 'This is one of the great secrets in connection with successful service for the Lord; to work as if everything depended upon our diligence, and yet not to rest in the least upon our exertions, but upon the blessing of the Lord..."

(John Piper, Taste and See)

Where Your Treasure Is

"..There is in the life and teachings of Jesus a relentless tendency toward simplicity. There is a steady impulse toward living at risk, and with a kind of abandon to the Father's care that looks foolish to the well-off world. There is an unsettling otherworldliness that made Jesus and his first followers radically useful in this dead-end world. There is a freedom from things and for the kingdom that thrills the heart of his disciples.

Lord, give us this freedom. At any cost, free us from the bondage to this world, and its images of success and power. Open our eyes to see that 'what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God' (Luke 16:15). Grant us to live as aliens and exiles. And fix our eyes on the all-satisfying, everlasting joy of arriving in heaven on the Calvary road of love and service." (John Piper, Taste and See, p. 261)

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

1000 Gifts #387

#387. That God gives me opportunities all day long (and everywhere I look!) to see how very blessed I am to have a house full of children...a family of my own, to love and serve.

(note the Nerf darts on the ceiling!)

(dirty dishes left on the table)

(craft items and books left in the wrong place)

(laundry to be put away..always laundry and more laundry)

(legos-aka 'deadly toys for your feet'-all over the carpet in the living room)

"..The world I live in is loud and blurring and toilets plug and I get speeding tickets and the dog gets sick all over the back step and I forget everything and these six kids lean hard into me all day to teach and raise and lead and I fail hard and there are real souls that are at stake and how long do I really have to figure out how to live full of grace, full of joy-before these six beautiful children fly the coop and my mothering days fold up quiet? How do you open the eyes to see how to take the daily, domestic, workday vortex and invert it into the dome of an everyday cathedral?.." (Anne Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts)

Friday, July 22, 2011

1000 Gifts (332+)

(some of the flowers my children picked for me)

332. the way God shows me His love through my children
333. Lizzie's little hands massaging my shoulders while I'm reading my Bible, just to speak to me of her love for me
334. babies-like Deacon and Quin-always making me smile..what a gift the little ones are!
335. intimacy
336. "no wrath is awakened in God at my sin, because Christ appeased it!"
337. my "feelings" are not the final word
338. a great VBS week
339. dramas that make me cry
340. ice cream dinners in the heat
341. time with my friend, Jama-to feel normal, and loved, and to love back
342. Myra's tears-weeping with me and for me
343. Lizzie hugs
344. Nehemiah kisses
345. wildflowers in vases, a gift from my children
346. humility, an ever ongoing work in me
347. muffins and fruit
348. waking up early and the quiet
349. food and clothing..with these I am to be content
350. the past is gone, He is doing a new thing
351. gluten free brownies..the best brownies I've ever had!
352. air conditioners..thank you, Jesus!
353. our church
354. the warmth of antiques
355. freshly picked blueberries, a gift from a friend
356. my sisters and getting to know each other as adults..you girls are beautiful and I love you
357. the hard questions..causing us to fall on our knees..and even when there are no answers, He is still on the throne, and He knows the answers
358. thunderstorms
359. queen anne's lace..how did He get them so delicate?
360. yogurt with honey and berries
361. my parents, always loving us, no matter what, always there to laugh and cry with us
362. my husband, a man of integrity
363. swimming with Robyn, and getting my legs to see some sun for the first time. :)
364. lots of company
365. precious time with my nephews and my family
366. water balloon fight with MOM (who is this fun woman?) :)
367. cookouts and hot dogs over the campfire
368. small victories, for HIS glory
369. Bible study and accountability with my dear friend, Gladine
370. blue skies and beautiful sunsets
371. tall corn and the way the wind blows through the cornfields outside my window
372. such a handsome husband! how lucky I am! :)
373. excedrin (has nothing to do with said husband!) :)
374. walks
375. God's word, which will not return void unto Him
376. gentle breezes
377. food for our enjoyment
378. my hard working husband
379. I have so much more than I deserve
380. sunflower seed shells everywhere I look..all over the house...in the oddest places...traces of my husband who I'm so luck to have. :)
381. my hands are full...of good gifts
382. that all 3 kids still fight over who gets to sit or lay next to me..every time! I am very loved.
383. a peaceful rest outside on a blanket with the kiddos, reading, enjoying Gods' creation
384. blue slushies with my family
385. a fun cookout with our lifegroup (and that other lifegroup) and funny stories and seeing Matt up against the doorframe and Kate's dramatic way of storytelling, which I will NEVER forget :)
386. His unfailing love and faithfulness and His daily strength

The Certainty of Love

photo © 2009 kari mcgrath

"Terror accomplishes no real obedience.
Suspense brings forth no fruit unto holiness.
No gloomy uncertainty as to God's favor
can subdue one lust,
or correct our crookedness of will.
But the free pardon of the cross uproots sin,
and withers all its branches.
Only the certainty of love,
forgiving love,
can do this."

-Horatio Bonar

When Is the Time to Trust?

"When is the time to trust?
Is it when all is calm,
When waves the victor's palm,
And life is one glad psalm
Of joy and praise?
Nay! but the time to trust
Is when waves beat high,
When storm clouds fill the sky,
And prayer is one long cry,
O help and save!

When is the time to trust?
Is it when friends are true?
Is it when comforts woo,
And in all we say and do
We meet but praise?
Nay! but the time to trust
Is when we stand alone,
And summer birds have flown,
And every prop is gone,
All else but God.

What is the time to trust?
Is it some future day,
When you have tried your way,
And learned to trust and pray
By bitter woe?
Nay! but the time to trust
Is in the moment's need,
Poor, broken, bruised reed!
Poor, troubled soul, make speed
To trust thy God.

What is the time to trust?
Is it when hopes beat high,
When sunshine gilds the sky,
And joy and ecstasy
Fill all the heart?
Nay! but the time to trust
Is when our joy is fled, When sorrow bows the head,
And all is cold and dead,
All else but God."

(Selected from Streams in the Desert)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

He Delays

(our house in KY-on the market 369? days now) :)

"I called upon him, but he gave me no answer." (S. of Sol. 5:6)

"The Lord, when He hath given great faith, hath been known to try it, by long delayings. He has suffered His servants' voices to echo in their ears as from a brazen sky. They have knocked at the golden gate, but it has remained unmovable, as though it were rusted upon its hinges. Like Jeremiah, they have cried, 'Thou has covered thyself with a cloud, that our prayer should not pass through.' Thus have true saints continued long in patient waiting without reply, not because their prayers were not vehement, nor because they were unaccepted, but because it so pleased Him who is a Sovereign, and who gives according to His own pleasure. If it pleases him to bid our patience exercise itself, shall He not do as He will with His own!

No prayer is lost. Praying breath ws never spent in vain. There is no such thing as prayer unanswered or unnoticed by God, and some things that we count refusals or denials are simply delays." (H. Bonar, from Streams in the Desert)

Friday, June 10, 2011

My Eyes Have Not Been Open

(this is "our" farm)

"..How we behold determines if we hold joy. Behold glory and be held by God." (Anne Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts)

"..The truly saved have eyes of faith and lips of thanks.." (A.V.)

"..how we behold determines if we hold joy.."...So, I guess I haven't been "beholding" rightly lately. I mean, I've been okay. It's just with the crazy move (bringing all our stuff from Kentucky), and that being our ninth move in 14 years, a month of unpacking and sorting, getting rid of stuff we've carried around for too many moves; the kids have been out of whack..not on a normal schedule, not sleeping as well; my emotional state (which some know to be a bit high normally) :) has been in a funk, I suppose to say it right.

Nothing has seemed "right." Not this lovely farm..I haven't been able much to see past the "old" smells, the "no putting nails in the walls", the carpet in the kitchen (really! why do you put carpet in the kitchen?), the "not enough space for my stuff." I guess I've been kind of stuck here, in the middle of the chaos of the move. And, then I suppose you could tack on the past year of our home not selling, the people in our past that live their lives like tornadoes (as Sara Groves puts it-"destruction follows you every where you go."), the adjustment of our second move in ten months..well, I could go on. I have plenty of "excuses" for being a bit "high strung" lately, for being a bit depressed, for struggling to get through these days.

But, I think it comes down to the fact that I haven't had my eyes open enough. There is beauty and life all around me. The other night my daughter asked if we could take some leftover dessert to our neighbors, and so I packed up the rest of the strawberry shortcake and she took it over. Later, I had a long conversation about her life and her cancer. Eyes opening. Is that why we're here?

The house is "in order" now-well, as much as it is ever for us. We had company for dinner last night. Dinner was good, the candles were lit, the praise music was going. There was peace in our home. Peace. Joy. In our little family, our simple farmhouse (with its funky brown carpet on the stairs-no, wait, is it green? who can tell?), there was peace and joy. Eyes opening.

Then I read this above quote today, and I ask God to help me behold. To open my eyes. To see past the last month..or six months of unrest. To see what He's doing. To remember how much we love being here..our church, our friends. To remember how much I've always wanted an old farmhouse. To open my eyes to Him. To open my heart back up to Him..fully. To let go...of my pride, of my resentment, of my discontentment. To love others and serve Him. To behold true beauty..the beauty of the Lord. In the everyday mundane. In the "less than perfect" life. Open my eyes, God, to see you. Open my eyes to look beyond me. For isn't that the real struggle? I get all caught up in "me" and then I can't see clearly.

So, maybe I never imagined nine moves in 14 years. Maybe I imagined I'd have more material possessions (or at least more expensive ones). (and I must add-in that dream, I was a lot thinner after three kids!) :) But, maybe I never knew the joy that would come from seeing the Lord provide. Maybe I just couldn't see that His ways are not only higher, but better for me. I see sometimes, and sometimes my eyes close. But, I KNOW I would rather be nowhere else. Nowhere but right here. On this farm. Surrounded by dear friends, who love me and live life with me. Part of a church family, who are like none we have ever known. With this precious family God has given me....loved and loving. Three children who daily give me joy. (well, okay, the boy has given me more headaches lately, but the joy is there..interspersed) :) Here with my husband who leads me to the cross and pours his love on me. Here is where I want to be. Here is what God has for me. Yes, my eyes are opening again....