Thursday, April 14, 2016

Guess What?

Guess what I've been doing? Working my tail off! I have two sibling children "enrolled" in my in-home daycare and preschool. They're three and five years old. We will only have the sister until fall, at which time she starts kindergarten.


Here is the little guy with the stuffy he brought from home. We are all in love with him already. The sister is nice and fun, but not quite so sweet as her brother. They are both bright and teaching them is easy. Speech is a challenge for the three year old, and we are still learning what sounds he is missing and what the substitutions are. One is /k/ and I'm trying to help him, but that's not an easy one to describe or show mouth position for.

My living room has become the playroom, the family room has become my children's school room, and half the dining room is the preschool room. Fortunately, my girls now read all their own social studies, science and literature, so that makes running a daycare easier than it might be. I have the girls narrate their assignments to me after they finish, and after the daycare kids leave at 5 PM (they're here full-time), I do writing and spelling with my girls. They boys just need me to check their assignment sheets and listen to them narrate, and of course I have to go over their writing assignments via regular writing conferences.

It isn't easy, and after three days I'm still getting the hang of it, but it's a blessing to have this necessary income. All my children love kids and they've been such a big help to me. They are learning how to run a business and be professional, and what hard work feels like. It's been a positive experience thus far, though I'm so busy I can barely check email once before bed. I've worked on this post a few minutes over three days, and don't expect to get back here very often.

And how are you, my friends? Anything new in your lives?





Saturday, April 2, 2016

When You Need to Wait

Waiting on the Lord


I have advertised my childcare services for a couple weeks now, and the only response has been attempts by three people to scam me (but I had been warned and was ready).

Oh, Lord Jesus, come. Evil is everywhere and that part is so discouraging.

I have done my mother and teacher and homemaker duties all these days, somewhat anxious but fighting those feelings because I know they lead only to folly.

Food prices have risen steadily and kids keep putting holes in their socks and shoes and growing like mad, and my husband hasn't had a raise in three years. Homeschooling all four children formally now, has also increased expenses, as we try to share resources and still be efficient.

Not to mention, I unnecessarily tightened things further by sponsoring a third child--which I do not regret and for which my husband doesn't begrudge me. We are encouraged in God's word to give back a portion of our incomes, and that goes for us, the low-income people as well. No matter how much we have, it comes from God and giving it back to Him is not scary.

Please don't wonder if we're eating well, because we are, definitely. We're not behind on bills so we aren't desperate, but tell that to my heart, will you?

I need a job and God knows I need a job. We've prayed for other options, but babysitting is the only option that still allows me to invest my whole heart into my children. About employment I've always felt that if one does his or her part, if laziness is not present, if consistency in looking is there, if hope doesn't die and despair doesn't cripple--making it difficult to keep on looking--then the hard work will pay off...and this even more likely for the Christian, whose hope is in God.

Oh, but the waiting. Is there anything other than pride that can cause a Christian to stumble so wretchedly? Yes, I think it's impatience.

I looked for a sermon on impatience before continuing with my Saturday chores, and I found it on a David Mathis Desiring God post. Here is an important excerpt:

Patience is the companion of humility and the enemy of pride. “The patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit” (Ecclesiastes 7:8). It is the appropriate posture of the creature illumined enough to say, “God is sovereign, and I am not.” And it is not our own production, but “the fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22; 5:5).

Three pointers were given in the article to help us when we're in a period of waiting on the Lord:

1. Renew faith and hope

2. Pray and give thanks (I especially love this one. Giving thanks and praying for others takes the focus off of ourselves, and since that self-focus is part of the problem in fretting, a love-your-neighbor focus is just what we need. (And what our neighbors need!)

3. Remember the patience of God

It's an outstanding article and better than anything I can write, so please, read it if you are waiting on the Lord for anything at all. Maybe you're waiting on a job, for the healing of a relationship or illness, for a child to love, or for the salvation of a loved one or neighbor or friend. God uses our waiting to build us up in Him, for his glory.

The Holy Spirit reminds me that the reason I'm struggling is because I think I know all the answers, and I'm wondering why God isn't catching up to my thinking.

And as always, I have it backwards. God is waiting for me to catch up to his will, not the other way around.

Bless you, friend, as you wait, and here are verses to help.

Verses on waiting and steadfastness:

Psalms 27:13-14 I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!

Psalms 37:34 Wait for the LORD and keep his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land; you will look on when the wicked are cut off.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Isaiah 30:18 Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.

Isaiah 40:31 but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Lamentations 3:25 The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.

Micah 7:7 But as for me, I will look to the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.

Acts 1:4 And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father

Romans 12:12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

Colossians 1:11 May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy,

1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

James 1:12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

James 5:11 Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Testing Your Bible Knowledge



Trek AWANA, my middle-school church class, is coming to a close. It has been a great experience for a number of reasons, but also a big stretch on my time because the Trek leader book did not contain any lesson plans. I had to extensively research each passage we studied until I understood it like a Bible scholar, and then I had to synthesize it all into a coherent, relevant lesson for middle schoolers. It was like writing a sermon each time and gave me new respect for what pastors go through in writing sermons once a week (I only had to teach every third week).

For this, my last lesson, I wrote a final exam of sorts that I'll use as trivia-type questions. It only includes what I taught from Luke (and other Gospels as needed to clarify events) not what my co-teachers covered. Take it for fun to test your Bible knowledge?


Some Final Exam Questions (for fun and review) - Trek Class 2016


1.  What two books of the Bible did Luke write?


2.  Which Gospel writer was like an investigative journalist?


3. Which Gospel writer was a doctor?


4. What is the path to greatness in God’s Kingdom?


5. Finish this verse: Matthew 20:28 Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his ________   ____   ____   _________  _____   __________.


6. John the Baptist told the people to repent. What does repentance look like?


7. Name two unusual things about John the Baptist. Can you think of a reason why God may have wanted John to be so unusual?


8. Who put John the Baptist in jail?


9.  Sharing in Jesus’ greatness involves sharing in his _____________.


10.  Of the biblical couples we learned about, which one had trouble conceiving a baby? What was their attitude in regard to their inability to have a baby?


11. What happened to Zechariah before his son John the Baptist was born. Why did it happen?


12. Mary’s famous lines in the Bible are:  I am the Lord’s_________________. Let it be ____   ___   ___   _____   _______.


13. Joseph belonged to the house and line of _______________________, so he had to go to _______________________ to be registered for the census. Why is it important that Joseph and Mary were from the line of David?


14. Finish this statement from John the Baptist: (Luke 3:16) I baptize you with water, but one more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not ___________   ___   _______.  He will baptize you with ____   ______   _______   ____   _______   ______.


15.  What is the main need of every person, and what was the main need of the paralytic man Jesus healed?


16. When Jesus healed the paralytic, who was lowered down by his four friends, the Pharisees had an attitude that prevented them from appreciating the miracle. How would you describe their attitude, and is it still here today in our churches? In what form?


17. What city was known as the headquarters of Jesus? Hint: It’s also the city in which the most miracles occurred. Jesus said of it: “And you, __________, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades.” (Luke 10:15)


18. When we die and have to give an account to God for our lives, God will specifically want to know what we did with ____________?


19. What can you tell me about the Roman Centurion who wanted Jesus to heal his servant? (We went over four details about him, but you don’t need to detail all of them.)


20. Jesus was very impressed with the Roman Centurion. Why? (Luke 7:9) When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, "____  ____   ___,   ___   _____   ___   ____  _____  ____   ______   ______  _______   ____ .


21. Who was the unknown man who walked with two disciples on the road to Emmaus?


22. What did Jesus discuss with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus?


23. Finish this verse (today’s memory verse): Luke 24: 25-26 ‘How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to _____   _______  _____  ______ ______  _____  ____  ____.


24. “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked?” What lesson is this from? What makes your own heart burn within you, and why do you think this is so?


25. Statement about today’s lesson: The story of the disciples on the Emmaus Road is important for many reasons. It provides an emphasis on the Old Testament prophecies related to Jesus, evidence regarding an additional appearance of Jesus, and a connection regarding the many eyewitnesses of the resurrected Jesus. Luke 24 is often seen as a model of the journey that Jesus makes with many of us today, as He opens our eyes, points us to the Word, and reveals Himself along life’s walk as the resurrected Savior and Lord. (Got Questions.org)


Why do you think all of this is important for the faith--the emphasis on the Old Testament prophecies, the evidence regarding an additional appearance of Jesus, and a connection regarding the many eyewitnesses of the resurrected Jesus?


26. During the triumphal entry of Jesus seated on a donkey, the people were very excited and the crowds were large. They worshiped Jesus as a king. What kind of a king did they want, and how did Jesus disappoint them?


27. How was Jesus’ triumphal entry different than what you would expect for a King?


28. Why did Jesus weep during the triumphal entry, as he looked out over the city? What was coming that caused the compassionate tears?


29. What was God’s 70 A.D. judgement on the people who crucified him? Can you name a figure from history who was important in the judgement (starts with a T)?


30. What 18-hour and overnight event starkly contrasted the tremendous majesty of God with the depth of man’s sin? What is the purpose of this contrast?


31. Who were Annas and Caiaphas? What do you remember about either of them?


32. What was the name of the body of people which had 71 members, with a high priest serving as leaders, and including the Sadducees, Pharisees, priests and scribes? What part did this body take in Jesus’ trial?


33. The scripture mentions that prior to Jesus’ trial, Pilate and Herod were distrustful of one another. After the trial they became friends. Can you think of a reason why scripture includes such historical details like this, that at first seem irrelevant?


34. Annas was guilty of a certain practice in the temple courts, which made him rich. What was it?


35. Can you think of any reasons Annas and Caiaphas would want Jesus dead? What did they stand to lose in regards to Rome, or way of life as they knew it?


36. Jesus was given an illegal trial. Can you remember anything about it that was illegal? (He was asked to testify against himself, death wasn’t supposed to be ordered until 2 days after conviction, and there were to be no night-time trials).


37. We went over three Herods:  Herod the Great, Herod Antipas, and lastly, Herod Agrippa I--who was the grandson of Herod the Great (Acts 12). It was Herod Agrippa I who persecuted the church in Jerusalem and had the apostle James, the brother of John and son of Zebedee, put to death by the sword. By the hand of Herod Agrippa I, James became the first apostle to be martyred. What are Herod the Great and Herod Antipas known for?

38. Jesus actually had more than one trial. He had two trials with 3 phases each--the whole ordeal lasting eighteen hours, overnight, and including many beatings. Why did it have to be so?

To ask everyone: How did going through the gospel of Luke--from learning that Mary was pregnant through the Holy Spirit, to reading about the resurrected Jesus appearing to two disciples on the Road to Emmaus--change your life? How do you think that reading the Bible systematically, versus just opening it anywhere and reading, can change someone’s life, and why?

Monday, March 28, 2016

My Baby Has Hair on His Legs, Oh My


Do you see this cute little boy? Don't you just want to squeeze the stuffing out of him, he's so cute? I sure do.


There we were today, sitting in the pediatrician's office for a routine check, and my 5' foot 7'' boy--who just yesterday was a downy-haired newborn--sat waiting on the examining table for the doctor, while playing "I spy" with his sisters. He had on ankle socks and I couldn't help noticing the manly leg hair peeking out from his jeans--all quite shocking to this Momma. His whole childhood flashed through my mind during their three rounds of I spy.

Exactly when did he become a man? How did my newborn, in a flash, morph into a hairy-legged creature with a definite mustache? 

Am I ready to let him go? Am I successfully working myself out of a job, and is it supposed to hurt this much? 

I'm so proud of my young man! He loves the Lord and cares deeply about the salvation of each child in this neighborhood. Twice a month or so he'll ask them...How are you doing with God this week? 

He lives each day to please the Lord and he fiercely loves his family. He protects his sisters, prays about their stubbornness, looks after his brother, and tells me thank you for raising my children to love the Lord. 

Becoming his mother 14 years ago was the happiest day of my 35-year-old life. He's driven me insane more times than I can count, but he's also filled my heart with an inexplicable love that forever changed me. 

Indeed, no one else has grown me or stretched me like he has. He's humbled me. He's matured me. He's taught me the intricacies of love and hope and endurance and grace. 

Thank you, Lord, for my baby boy. Thank you for my young man. Thank you for his life and his love and his loyalty. May he live true and bring many hearts to your Throne of Grace.

May he fiercely love you and follow you all the days of his life, and dwell in your House forever. Amen.


Sunday, March 27, 2016

Happy Resurrection Day!





One of the most beautiful times as a Christian is on Easter Sunday when the whole congregation sings beautiful and strong all the songs of hope, redemption, glory, and amazing grace. He is Risen! The three most beautiful words in all the world. 

He. is. Risen. 

This morning there was a really large choir and a brass band and an uber-talented worship leader and my tears and my joy knew no containment. My troubles, eclipsed. My hope, new. I wanted nothing because I had everything.

Then our family got back into the van and trouble resurfaced and not five hours later, life felt heavy again and I was reminded of what hope means. Hope looks forward. If you want hope, go to Him who is the author of hope. 

Congregating with the faithful who are one in Him, our voices rising in unison, our breasts swelling with the breath of Life, singing about His glory and amazing grace...it's as close as it gets to heaven on earth, for me.

When we look for hope on earth we will be disappointed. Too much pain, anguish, hate, disorder, disease, and ugliness. Hope lies within, looking forward to that time when there will be no more sorrow, no more pain.

Revelation 21:3-5 (about end times and the new heaven and the new earth, after this, the "first things" have passed away.)

And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away." And He who sits on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new."

Dear Lord, 
Thank you for the cross and for your precious Son, through which you secured our place in heaven, to live in glory with you forever. Thank you for the hope they have both wrought in our hearts and lives. Thank you for the glimpses you give us here of the new heaven and the new earth. Thank you for the mercy and grace you provide daily that eclipse our pain and suffering. Thank you for the glory of God, and may it shine through us daily. Thank you for our family and friends, who each are gifts from you. Thank you for the most powerful words ever uttered:  "It is finished" and "He is Risen!" We love you!

In Jesus' name I pray,

Amen

John 19:28-30

"It Is Finished"

28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!” Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.

Some very famous learned men set out to prove that the Resurrection was a hoax. They studied and studied, but they only found irrefutable evidence that the Lord Jesus rose again. Instead of writing a famous paper that would settle the account once and for all, they gave their lives to Jesus Christ.

God, who makes no mistakes, knew that there needed to be irrefutable evidence of the Resurrection.

If you don't yet know if it's true, I invite you to read about the evidence.