Favorite Things This Weekend

Happy Saturday! I hope you get some down time this weekend to rest and reflect and spend some time doing things that refresh your soul.

This weekend I’m fighting a cold, so I’ve had some extra time to read and rest, a gift I’m thankful for.

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I wanted to thank you all for your input into my busyness study. I’ll be revisiting that topic in the next few weeks, but for those who asked here’s the link to my talk on Sermon Audio if you’d like to have a listen.

Here are a few of my favorite things around the web this week. Enjoy!

Articles::

This article, Burnout Begins With Bad Theology from Desiring God. “What I do instead of sleep shines a spotlight on my idols, whether it be late-night football, cultivating my online persona, surfing the Internet, ministry success, or promotion. Why sleep when it does nothing to burnish my reputation or advance my glory?” Of course, I agree with the exception that sometimes babies interrupt our sleep and we can do nothing about that–but I get what the author is saying, completely. Caring for your babies is NOT spotlighting idolatry, obviously. Okay, then. Moving on…

If you have teen daughters, this article Marry The Man Who Stays is an excellent read in a superstar culture. Quiet faithfulness is a quality to look for!

Also, if you have teens you need to read this anonymous letter. Could your teen have written it? (PS. I can’t find it in the sea of comments but the saddest comment was something along this line: “My father was a pastor, so I never had a father. Now my husband is a pastor, so I never have a husband.”  MY HEART. It is NOT the job of the church to influence your kids hearts, though it’s a great benefit of going to church. If you are too busy for your kids, you are TOO BUSY.)

History::

Fascinating story of librarians-on-horseback who delivered books during the height of the Great Depression. What a treat that must have been for the recipients!

This story of a family alone and lost in iSiberia for 40 years--and how they survived. World War 2 came and went and they never knew. Crazy!

Recipes::

King Arthur’s Chai Spiced Pound Cake looks amazing. Planning to make it this week!

If you have fresh tomatoes in abundance, Marcella Hazan’s famous recipe is adapted here for fresh tomatoes. Made a huge batch this week and it’s delicious with lots of fresh Romano! This is a simple, delicious sauce.

Education::

Dyslexie font was created to help kids who struggle with Dyslexia. Thought it was ingenious!

If your child needs extra help in Grammar, this site offers free online practice. We really like this site.

The Joyful, Illiterate Kindergarteners of Finland is a thoughtful read. Plus, I’m part Finnish, so…;)

 

Enjoy your weekend! If you have any great links or want to share from your own site, share them in the comments!

 

Cozy Home Challenge Week 2 {Front Door Decor!}

It’s Monday, time for another Cozy Home Challenge.

First, the good news. The winner of the Gracelaced Book is RUTH MOORE. Congratulations! I’ll pop that in the mail for you!

Today’s challenge: Decorate your front door.

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My sisters and I always say that if someone just opened a business strictly for front door decor, they’d make a killing!

I don’t know about you but I always struggle with my front door. I want it to be welcoming and homey because it’s the first place family and friends see when they come to our home.

In years past, I’ve done wooden cut-outs of pumpkins, sun flowers, bittersweet wreaths, and a basket overflowing with fall leaves.

This year I used my hanging welcome basket full of leaves, and added a ribbon, twiggy battery operated lights and burlap.

I think the best way to decorate is with things you already have…so get your creative juices flowing…and share your pics under this post on our FB wall. I love driving around to see how other people decorate their front doors and I can’t wait to see yours.

I can’t wait to see how you decorate yours!

Fall Cozy Home Challenge and Giveaway!

Fall is one of my favorite seasons of the year!

There’s nothing like the crisp mornings, changing leaves, cable knit sweaters, and pumpkin lattes of the burnt orange season.

It inspires me to create a cozy home–and to look well to the hearts living under my roof.

Each Monday for the next six weeks, I’ll be sharing a “cozy assignment” to help motivate us to make our home inspiring and to care for the people we love.

There’s no pressure with this. If you want to join in, do what you can. We aren’t trying to be Martha Stewart or Pinterest Superwomen. I want you to work within the means and life stage that God has place you. And I want to share your joy.

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Some of the challenges will be decorative, and others relational, but it will all be heartwarming and fun.

Who’s in?

Today’s assignment?

Use what you have to create a cozy corner–one you’d love to curl up and read a book in. You might add a throw blanket, a reading light, a candle, some fall leaves or flowers. Just make it inviting.

Here’s mine.

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I’m super excited to be able to offer you a giveaway!  You can enter to win a hard back copy of Ruth Simon’s new book “Gracelaced.”–A perfect cozy addition to your coffee table! To enter, use the Rafflecopter form below and get points for sharing on social media, sharing a pic under our FB post of the cozy corner you arranged, or leave a comment. Can’t wait to see all of your creativity!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

When God calls Your Trial Deliverance.

How do you walk with joy in the midst of less than glorious circumstances?

How do you keep a tender heart during the disappointments and trials of life that we’re all bound to face?

Chances are there’s something unwanted in your life. I know I’ve got my share. An imperfection, broken relationship, trouble, baggage, or something you didn’t sign up for but now find yourself juggling.

That’s life, right? Now what?

If you are like me, you spend a lot of time worrying about these things. I always try to remember to not worry which accomplishes nothing, but to pray instead, which could actually help.

Besides praying, here are a few realizations that have helped me to keep my heart and mind quiet through turbulent times.

 

1. I need to focus on the right things.

Hurts are inevitable. Those tender spots, painful memories, lonely years, involuntary remembrances are not wrong in and of themselves. We are human and emotions are part of our make-up. If we didn’t feel injustice, something would be very wrong with us.

But these things can easily become central in our thoughts and can quickly displace our pursuit of God.

Trials must be accepted with joy–per James–a mindset that takes supernatural enablement.

Why? Because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance and after that, you’ll mature in your faith, lacking nothing.  (See James 1:2-4)

Where we focus our mental time and energy reveals what we are pursing.

We live near a pond and we love using our fire pit in the evenings. I’ve decorated the trees with white lights to add to the charm. It’s almost perfect, except for one small problem: the mosquitos are thick near the pond and those pesky bugs attack us every time we go out.

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If I focused only on the “bugs”, I’d probably never venture outside. Instead, we don our insect repellant and focus on the family time and it propels me to go outside, despite the pests.

We all have “bugs.” And we must see past the bugs to the Creator and His purposes.

The Israelites had their fair share of “bugs” as they were leaving Egypt.

First, Pharoah’s army. God intervened. He parted the water and they walked through on dry ground.

Then, they began their journey into the “Promised Land.” I can imagine the eye rolls and the sighing after three days of walking in the wilderness. “Promised Land? If you call scorching heat and no water promising.” I can hear the complaining now.

That’s when things got real. They were really thirsty, really hungry, really tired and subsequently, really angry. So angry that they wanted to kill Moses and dreamed of the “good old days” back in slavery in Egypt. Yikes.

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art by Benjamin West (Joshua Passing the River Jordan)

They focused on their lack, and forgot God’s provision.

Belief took a backseat and the blame game began.

Instead of resting in God’s presence and sovereignty, they let frustration and dissatisfaction build to anger so that they would have picked up stones to kill Moses.

It’s a downhill spiral. Desires unmet and focused on lead to disappointment, then nursed become discontentment, then anger, complaining, murmuring, blaming, lashing out.

You and I aren’t much different. When trials come, we can “take it” for a while. A precious short while. But we need a fight our own sinful reactions if we’re going to call it all joy and persevere.

Our example and inspiration is Jesus:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,  fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-4

2. I need to identify the real target of my dissatisfaction.

During trials, I’ve learned that I can’t trust my feelings or perception because it’s usually very off.

The Israelites blamed their issues on Moses, but Moses wasn’t any more capable of producing water or food out of thin air than they were.

They were mad at God so they blamed, complained, and attacked Moses–the wrong person.

Maybe you’ve found yourself angry at a situation that was unwanted or unfair. Anger itself that is righteous and against sin is not the problem. It’s the anger directed at other people that does the damage and it shows up in varied ways:

  • the prolonged slow burn of resentment,
  • the envy that morphs into hate,
  • the cold disposition,
  • the desire for revenge,
  • the indifference,
  • the stiff neck,
  • snide remarks,
  • sour spirit,
  • critical comments.

You get the idea.

Same root (anger), different fruit:

“Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice.”

The thing is that our anger does not work towards our righteousness. So we need to look inside, find the hardness of heart toward God and address it, so we can move on in our spiritual growth.

3. I need to agree with God.

Sometimes our problem is that we don’t see the whole picture. I see the frustrations in my day as hindrances to my schedule, my plans, but God is orchestrating events to deal with my heart.

I call it a trial, but God calls it deliverance.

Sometimes He brings the same trials over and over again to see if I will follow His Word or not. He did this with the children of Israel. As they wandered from place to place, the same old problem arose. No water. No food. In the Wilderness of Sin, then again at Rephidim. It should have been like de ja vu. Excitement. “Hey, we’ve been here and seen this! God’s going to do it again. He’ll provide. Have faith.”  But no. Out poured the same old heart issues. They murmured.

Exodus 16: 4, 6-8

Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions.

So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, “In the evening you will know that it was the Lord who brought you out of Egypt, and in the morning you will see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are we, that you should grumble against us?

 Moses also said, “You will know that it was the Lord when he gives you meat to eat in the evening and all the bread you want in the morning, because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are we? You are not grumbling against us, but against the Lord.”

 

The Lord was delivering the people of Israel and He allowed trials in that process.

He’s delivering you and me as well. He’s delivering us from the entanglement of sin, the delusions of sufficiency, the perceptions of independence. He’s saving us from our own hearts, friends, and that’s where real freedom is.

I love this verse that gives God’s assessment of their “wilderness wanderings full of trials, no food, tiredness, heat, exhaustion.

Exodus 19:4 should be a wake up call to Christian women in trials everywhere because God’s perception of what takes place is different than our own.

Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, This is what you are to say to the descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel:  ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.

Carried you on eagles’ wings? Brought you to myself? Are you kidding me? I thought that trial would kill me.

“Borne up and Brought To.”–comfort of comforts.

Carried you to myself.

I’ve been mulling that phrase, friends.

It’s settled deep within my heart and started to soften some of the hard places where I’ve hid cynicism, fear, and disappointment.

We are not forgotten.

God is using this thing, whatever it is, to bring us to Himself.

Is this trial making you chase harder after God?

If so, you’re soaring on eagles wings. He’s bringing you to Himself, renewing your strength, clarifying your vision.

It’s a gift, friends, and it can be truly counted as “all joy.”

Coffee Helping Missions

Last week, my daughter and I had a lovely conversation about big picture Christian living as a woman and how that plays out in our daily life. One thing that is clear to me is that Rebekah has a heart to encourage missionaries and women in many different situations and stages of life.

Of course, I’m partial, but Rebekah is one of my favorite women because she’s always looking for ways to do little things to encourage others behind the scenes, and help them succeed.

She told me about her missionary friend, Lisa Mayfield and her husband Jeff who are headed to Ecuador to plant churches, and her desire to encourage them.

Today she sent me this wonderful way that we can all support missions by doing something we already do: buy coffee.

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Have you heard of Coffee Helping Missions? You can find all the info here, at Coffee Helping Missions.

100% of the profits from every bag of coffee you purchase goes to support missions work through Biblical Ministries Worldwide. And you can choose the missionary you want to support with your purchase. WIN-WIN.

Coffee!! Oh, how I love you!! Hot, iced, pumpkin spiced. And now I love you even more.

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I’m really excited to order a bag and support Rebekah’s friends, the Mayfields. If you are interested in supporting missions, why don’t you give Coffee Helping Missions a try.

Have you used this service to support missions? Do you know other BMW missionaries that are supportable via this website? Share their name in the comments!

Family Update and Book Recommendation!

How do you explain it when you are on the launch team of your friend’s newly released book “Gracelaced”, and through a series of unfortunate events and mail-mishaps, the MIA book lands straight in your lap two weeks “late”

the very week your doctor uses the dreaded word (cancer) and your child’s name in the same sentence and tells you that you’ll need to set up a biopsy?

How do you describe the ministry of paint mixed with scripture and gospel-words that flow off the page and straight into your hurting heart?

I call it a gift from God.

As I sat on my back patio last week, a bundle of nerves, fighting fear, God used Ruth’s book to comfort and challenge my thinking.

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I want to tell you about Ruth’s book because it is so jam-packed with truth on every page:
“Look past the thorn to how Christ is enough in the midst of it. His grace is sufficient for the thorn He chooses not to remove.”
“Joseph fixed his eyes on the ultimate purpose of his affliction: to know the Lord’s faithfulness to accomplish His will in and through a life dependent on Him.”
“You don’t have to be blooming to be growing, so don’t give up. God demonstrating His glory through your dependency is your real story…”
“I know from experience that it is loving for God not to leave me to myself. Ease, comfort, self-sufficiency, pride, love for self, and inattentiveness to sin will all prevent true growth if left unattended.”
“We call if forgiveness when we’ve moved on, but I think forgiveness is when you let tenderness move in.”

It want to recommend this beautiful book to you (it’s still on pre-sale for nearly half price on Amazon!) and THANK YOU for praying for our daughter. We went on Friday to the surgeon and received the best possible news: the spot in question is just plain gone, friends. No biopsy needed as it’s gone without a trace. No scarring. No remnant. Nothing. We are in shock and awe and so very thankful to God for answering our prayer.

*This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. I received this book free and this review is my honest assessment.

Reciting Truth In The Middle of the Trial

I used to jump a mile whenever I’d see a snake. When we first moved into our home, I’d jump and scream as soon as I caught a glimpse of one slithering through the long grass. I remember telling Peter that I don’t think I could get used to them lurking in the woods and grapevine.

Fast forward a few years.

Today, a black garter snake slithered by me and I called quickly for my little guy to come and see it. He came running over, full of excitement, and we both peered down on it; him, with the wonder of a child who is seeing with new eyes and is safe with an adult he trusts; me, with the knowledge that the garter snake could do me no harm and could be instructional for Little B. I knew the snakes limits and I had no fear.

We had some unsettling news last week about the health of one of our children. After a routine check up the “c” word was used and a biopsy was ordered as a precaution. We go this Friday. My first reaction at the news was an old familiar one: fear.

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It’s hard to trust God when you overestimate the power and ability of the snake, the unwanted thing, the illness, the trial.

“I will fear no evil. Thou art with me.”

It’s when you realize that your Heavenly Father is with you, walking beside you, leading you, allowing these things, that you can look at it full on, with no fear, and say with amazement, “This thing looks dangerous, and like it could harm me, but God is here with me and He only allows what is good.”

But, I confess, I glance back at the trial mindlessly. I stare at the snake. I’m horrified and my imagination takes over. What if. How could this be? I’m glued and frozen. I have a headache for days. I cry myself to sleep.

I fight to turn my gaze to the promises of Christ.

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It’s a grace to see the struggle, and to immerse my mind in Scripture, as it should be every day.

It’s a grace to see my need crystal clear. I need Christ. He is in control and we are not.

I confess with my mind (if not with my emotions) the truth that this affliction is light, and momentary and is producing something in us–

bearing fruit.

Gazing at Christ brings hope and clarity and reality.

I drop the self-deluded notions of independence or strength and confess that it is in Him that we live and move and have our being.

“For our light and momentary afflictions are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” 2 Corinthians 4:17

In God’s providence, I have been studying Hebrews for the past three months. I’ve read and learned from the Faith Hall of Famers. These faithful men and women serve as an example for me in these very moments– in life’s biggest trials or during the mundane annoyances of life. Trust and obey. Faith over fear.

They trusted when the road was unknown, when obedience meant ridicule, or when health and old age meant they’d have to trust God with their children or lack thereof.

They focused on the God of the eternal and not at their circumstances.

Friends, maybe you are in a place of fear today, real or imagined, for a myriad of reasons. Don’t let fear and the emotions of the unknown shake what you do know about the character of your God.

Here are a few quotes that have helped tether my mind to the truth:

TRUTH FOR YOUR TRIAL

2 Corinthians 12:9 – And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Romans 8:28 – And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose.

Psalms 23:4 – Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 –Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.  For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.

“Contentment does not lie around the next corner. It is not waiting for us on the other side of today’s difficulty, nor is it lost with yesterday. Contentment is where God is, and God is with us today.” Lydia Brownback, Contentment

“Real contentment isn’t produced by external circumstances, but from attitudes of the heart. If you need life to be a certain way in order to be content, you won’t experience contentment very often. True contentment is the result of gratitude and real gratitude is the result of humility. When you begin to realize that everyday you receive much more blessing than you could ever deserve, you are able to be content even in situations that you would have never chosen. When you are able to see that even in the darkest of moments there are things for which to be thankful, then you are able to experience contentment mixing with pain. When purposes that are larger then your own momentary happiness are what capture your heart and structure your activity, you are able to be content even when things aren’t going your way.” Paul Tripp, after his daughter was hit by an SUV.

“The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances.” Elisabeth Elliot

He’s too good to give us something that is bad for us.

He’s too loving a friend to leave us.

Knowing who is in control keeps the trial from terrifying you, but only when you think within the bounds of Scripture, choose to renew your mind, and act in faith.

P.S: I do believe in the power of prayer and ask that you’d keep our family in your prayers. We are praying that it is nothing, but trusting God with the outcome. Thank you!

 

 

Nature Study for the Very Young {Plus Birds of Northeast Printable}

I wanted to share a few thoughts on Nature Study for the very young. This fall, I’ll start integrating “Little B” (3 years old) into our homeschooling day. Of course, nothing will be formal because at this age play is the best tool for learning — and little boys don’t sit still for long.

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But when we all go outside, we’ll bring Little B into nature study because it is completely natural for us to all observe the world we live in.

I think homeschoolers make nature study too hard, like there’s one way to do it right. We take all the fun out of it when we expect our kid’s nature journal to resemble a Marjolein Bastin print.

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Nature study is really quite simple. Everyone goes outside to observe and appreciate the surroundings. You can go on an old familiar walk and note the changes in the season as the green grasses turn to lavender hued flowers, or watch the progress of a local corn field.

In our family, we note the changing seasons, the flowers, birds in our own back yard, the cranberry bogs as they flower and the fruit grows. If you have a little one, maybe he gets excited when he sees a spider, toad, or army of busy ants.

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Why do nature study?

According to Anna Comstock, the author of the authoritative work The Handbook of Nature, nature study serves to:

  • cultivate the child’s powers of observation
  • build a knowledge of natures forces so they aren’t helpless in a disaster
  • cultivate a child’s imagination
  • give him a perception of what is true
  • discern and express things as they are
  • cultivate a love of what’s beautiful
  • give them an abiding love of nature

Anna warns against forcing nature study:

“As soon as nature study becomes a task, it should be dropped.” “If nature study is made a drill, it’s pedagogic value is lost.” pg. 7

Of course, she blames the teacher for mishandling the subject because she believes the world is full of wonder.

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Keeping a Nature Journal:

There are so many misleading notions about keeping a nature journal that I want to share some direct quotes from the Handbook of Nature Study:

“No child shall be compelled to have a notebook.” (Interest should drive this, and if you keep one, most likely your child will want to as well.)

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“The making of drawings to illustrate what is observed should be encouraged. (A drawing is better than a long explanation.)

“The spelling, language, and writing of the notes should all be exempt from criticism.” (This isn’t grammar or spelling class.)

“The book should be be considered the personal property of the child and should never be criticized by the teacher except as a matter of encouragement.”

Blueberry Picking at Grandpa's

Anna instructs the teacher to inspect nature notebook to enter into companionship with the child, or to evaluate where his interests lie so you can spread a larger feast of knowledge in areas of his interest on the next trip outdoors.

Hope poked holes into an old milk jug to make a watering can.

Practical aspects:

The field notebook should have sturdy paper able to tolerate watercolor, and  fit into a child’s bag or pocket.

The child should be free to choose his own medium, either pencil, crayon, or watercolor and should be trusted to know which medium will best reflect the object he is admiring.

Showing me the brine shrimp.

Let them begin with anything that catches their interest: plant or animal. As children get older, they may branch out into landscapes and other creative lettering in the journal.

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Don’t criticize. Remember that this is a personal pursuit.

Anna Comstock on the child’s journal: “They represent what cannot be bought or sold, personal experience in the happy world of out-of-doors.”

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Tools I’ve used over the years:

Pocket Watercolor Box

Moleskin Unlined Pocket Journal

Prismacolor Watercolor Pencils (especially great when you have lots of kids. You draw with the pencils, then apply the water when you get home! Sanity saver!!)

A few examples of early entries into a nature journal by my own 3-7 year olds.

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Other articles on the subject:

Video: Adding Watercolor to Your Nature Journal using 3 colors.

Bird silhouette for beginners

Summer: The perfect time to begin nature study

Charlotte Mason on Taking Kids Outdoors

Birds of the Northeast

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This post contains Amazon affiliate links to products I love and recommend.

White Supremacy and the truth about my heart.

It’s easy to see the ignorance of the White Supremacy movement, and I hope as Christians we’re quick to condemn the hate-filled rhetoric behind such groups. I trust we’re quick to promote the  heart of the Savior and take extra care during these tender days to love our brothers and sisters who are the targets of these hurtful displays.

White Supremacy is so distasteful, so blatant, that I can easily call it out and condemn it–

but, at the same time,

I know that Satan is laughing at me because I hold a detestable supremacy of another sort in the deepest recesses of my heart.

And while I’d never push for White Supremacy, boy do I volley for my own sovereignty whenever I’m confronted with something distasteful or unwanted.

  • It could be something as simple as an interaction with an rude person.
  • Maybe an inconvenience due to someones negligence.
  • Being misunderstood.
  • Being mistreated by someone who should know better.
  • A physical limitation.
  • Waiting when I’m in a hurry.

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When faced with unwanted circumstances, my flesh rises up, my heart beats fast, and I raise my clenched fists, demanding my rights. I rally for my own supremacy, instead of acknowledging the One who rules and reigns over all, and who appoints all my days and interactions. My fists are shaken towards Him. Can you even imagine the audacity? The shock? I’m privileged and easily annoyed and you can see how this doesn’t mesh with the Spirit-filled life.

When our flesh rises up, we need to check our entitled attitude at the foot of the cross.

In times of irritation, inconvenience, or unpleasant circumstances, my heart’s responses reveal exactly what I believe about myself and my God and these are the moments,

the hidden moments,

the heart moments,

when I have to lay aside all my rights and kneel before the will of God.

After all, I’m a Christ-follower.

An imitator of Him.

His divine DNA is pulsing through my soul and I cannot live with this dichotomy without hurting and hindering my fellowship with Him and those I am called to love (especially when they are annoying!)

Philippians 2 tells us that Jesus made himself nothing.

Christ stripped himself of all privilege.

He signed up to become a slave for my benefit and yours. He accepted God’s will, even when it involved a gruesome death on the cross.

And here I am, annoyed when asked to endure the smallest inconvenience.

  • When my kids forget something and I have to make another car trip.
  • When my husband forgets something I asked him to remember.
  • When I have to serve God alongside people who disappoint me.
  • When my Starbucks Salted Caramel Mocha comes with whipped cream when I asked for none.
  • When people take advantage of me.
  • When the car breaks down.

I like how Elisabeth Elliot puts it:

“Often in the smallest hidden matters of the heart’s attitude, it is that the deepest spiritual tests are given to us. And the reality of the spiritual life is revealed in those small, hidden matters of the heart.”

As we grieve and speak out against the sin of white supremacy, let’s also pause and address our own heart’s supremacy which must be destroyed as well.

How is God testing your heart today? What trial are you face to face with in this moment?

Where do you feel entitled? Superior? Where do you demand respect and compliance?

In the areas of disappointment, inconvenience, or any distasteful thing, can you accept this as from the hand of God and simply part of the way He has ordered your steps for your own good and His glory?

We won’t grow while our hearts are hard and demanding and we can’t embrace God’s will with clenched fists and stiff necks.

Today, whatever comes your way, humble yourself.  View each interaction as appointed by God for your good and growth. Let the Bible set the parameters for your actions and reactions. It’s easy to say we have faith in God, but true faith in God embraces His will, loves what He loves, and strives to obey His Word in action and reaction.

 

 

 

A Parenting Gem from Charlotte Mason, That Nearly Every Other Parenting Book Missed

I’m re-reading Home Education by Charlotte Mason and I stumbled upon this nugget of mothering goodness that stayed with me for months and wanted to share it, as I don’t recall ever reading it explained this way anywhere else.

(And let’s be honest, you’ve seen my bookshelves! I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on parenting and education books.)

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Charlotte Mason, as you might recall, was an educator in England during late 1800’s, known for her compassionate heart for the plight of children and her keen observations about what made them tick.

She knew how to win their hearts, and understood the difference between being lectured to and being fully educated.

In volume 1 part 3, Entitled “Offending the Children,” she talks about a code of ethics for dealing with children, taken from the gospels:

It is summed up in three commandments, and all three have a negative character, as if the chief thing required of grown-up people is that they should do no sort of injury to the children: Take heed that ye offend not––despise not––hinder not––one of these little ones.

She opens by telling the story of a mother who thinks it’s “funny” to get a reaction out of her baby by saying “Naughty Baby” just to watch the way the child’s face drops and her countenance changes. In short, teasing the baby by saying something untrue. She notes that the baby’s face changes because her little conscience is working and she’s aware of right and wrong. Then she asks how this child could grow up into someone who couldn’t care less about doing right?

She contends that is because of the inconsistency of the mother and her example of not loving virtue.

By slow degrees, here a little and there a little, as all that is good or bad in character comes to pass. ‘Naughty!’ says the mother, again, when a little hand is thrust into the sugar bowl; and when a pair of roguish eyes seek hers furtively, to measure, as they do unerringly, how far the little pilferer may go. It is very amusing; the mother ‘cannot help laughing’; and the little trespass is allowed to pass: and, what the poor mother has not thought of, an offence, a cause of stumbling, has been cast into the path of her two-year-old child. He has learned already that which is ‘naughty’ may yet be done with some impunity, and he goes on improving his knowledge.”

 

She contrasts this behavior with that of the “law compelled” mother–one who upholds virtue as a standard for all in the house, including herself and doesn’t allow herself to rule her children from a place of convenience, selfishness, moodiness, or whim.

This mother believes it’s her DUTY to live under the very laws she upholds as beautiful and right to her children. AND, conversely, to parent any other way, especially to parent on your whim or moods, it to train your child to live selfishly and hate virtue.

She explains that children are born into the world with a sense of justice. They recognize injustice when they’re called “bad boy” or “naughty girl” when they weren’t truly bad.

Children know and learn quickly that sometimes the only truth they have to get around is mom’s bad mood or dad’s tired hour to get what they want. They are trained to manipulate when parental whims are the prevailing law in the home and God’s law, or virtue and right and wrong is nothing.

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A mother who “does not offend or hinder a child” is one who consistently calls good good and evil evil.

She teaches the child that they both have a duty to God and to truth.

Therefore, she doesn’t laugh or overlook when the child throws a fit or hits another child, or steals cookies before dinner, even if she’s in an upbeat, silly mood and doesn’t feel like dealing with it.

And when the mother is aggravated or tired or stretched to her limits, she refuses to come down hard on the kids for little offenses, as though she’s the only consideration in the house and she’s above the law of God. She has a duty to love virtue and live virtue, and well, unjust anger doesn’t fit into that rubric.

I think many times we parent to our own whims. We know the right things to do, yes, but we don’t love virtue enough to do the hard things, and consequently, our children don’t love virtue either. It becomes a big game of pushing limits, testing mom and dad, or seeing how far we can go to the edge without getting in trouble.

Charlotte Mason, in Home Education says,

The child has learned to believe that he has nothing to overcome but his mother’s disinclination; if she choose to let him do this and that, there is no reason why she should not;

On watching a mother who lives by whims, not principle or law:

if his mother does what she chooses, of course he will do what he chooses, if he can; and henceforward the child’s life becomes an endless struggle to get his own way; a struggle in which a parent is pretty sure to be worsted, having many things to think of, while the child sticks persistently to the thing which has his fancy for the moment.

After describing the battle of wills that will surely result from self-centered living in parenting, she asks where it all stems from:

In this: that the mother began with no sufficient sense of duty; she thought herself free to allow and disallow, to say and unsay, at pleasure, as if the child were hers to do what she liked with. The child has never discovered a background of must behind his mother’s decisions; he does not know that she must not let him break his sister’s playthings, gorge himself with cake, spoil the pleasure of other people, because these things are not rightLet the child perceive that his parents are law-compelled as well as he, that they simply cannot allow him to do the things which have been forbidden, and he submits with the sweet meekness which belongs to his age.

In short, the child needs to know that his mother

“is not to be moved from a resolution on any question of right and wrong.”

I have done a lot of parenting and I’ve seen a lot of parenting and I know how easy it is to parent out of “convenience” for mom.

“Stop fighting.”–This house is so loud I can’t hear myself think.

“Do your chores.”–I don’t want to have to remind you and I want the work done.

When it all comes back to us as the center, and we forget virtue all together, we are woe-fully off of our goal of parenting to the glory of God.

Virtuous parenting looks up to the will of the Lord. It insists that we all live for God’s desires. Parents can’t live as though they are above God’s law. They don’t get a pass. They must not shirk their duty to live a life worthy of imitating.  To do so is to imitate another thing entirely.

In a Christian home, the standard must be God’s Word. What does God say about a matter? How would he have us act and react?  We don’t “seek our own” because we are not our own.

It’s worth working through Part 3 of Home Education if you want to read more about this. I found it very helpful.

For further reading on CM’s method’s, you might enjoy A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola. Her blog is also enjoyable and refreshing.