Here...in the now

What a profound impact words can have on us.  A few words carelessly thrown around can wreak a lifetime of pain and havoc just as an equally few loving, well-placed words can produce years of joy.  The blog A Holy Experience sends out powerful words that carry lifechanging potential.  Please prayerfully consider a short selection from today's post The Only Place to Really Live.
 The snow's falling and my mind's racing ahead with all of the things that need to be done and there's still the pots and pans soaking and the laundry to be switched over and learning plans to be sketched out for the new year and how many emails that should have been responded to last week because there are real people that I really care about at the end of those notes and I have to get to the post office today and the calendar squares are fattening a year that isn't even born yet and I am only a little bit terrified of how to live.
The snow's so quiet, coming straight down… knowing where it's going.
I'm wiping off the table. It strikes me: I am not here. My mind's lunging ahead, already dashing onto the next and the next and the next, tripping over this and that and falling all over the future that isn't.
I profane this moment when I won't stay in it.
I desecrate now when I dismiss it in my push for the next. There are snowflakes sticking to the glass of the window.Right there at the table's edge I can see them clustering together, piling, melding on the pane. I almost missed it.
I miss living this moment because my head's already moved into the next moment — the one that isn't even here yet — and when I am not in this moment but trying to shove into a moment that doesn't even exist — I miss out on living at all. I may bodily be in this space but I am not even alive.
Could I be walking through the years but not even be alive?
"When I am present to the Presence of God meeting us in this moment, I am not worrying, I am not regretting, I am not chaffing, griping, fuming, fretting.
Be all here: and be holy.
Be all here: and be happy.
Because the Presence of I AM always fills the present moment.
Be all here and be at peace… content… awake —- Alive. When I am mindful of this moment, the mind fills with God and the heart fills with peace and joy-thanks fills the prayers and isn't the only way God can come to us is through the door of this moment? Here.
The flakes are larger now. Lingering. Their lacy edges entwine. This is the thing, the real thing of living —- Notice now: and you win joy. God is beautiful here.
I say yes to Him and the year of here and press my hand against the cool of the window.
Joy's a snowflake on the sill — it lives only here in this moment."


The statement that says "I profane this moment when I won't stay in it."  really grabbed my attention.  How many moments of every day do I profane?  How many sunrises, sunsets, and other brief moments my loving Heavenly Father intends as surprise blessings for me each day whoosh by completely unnoticed as I lunge ahead missing the beautiful gift of now. 
Making resolutions and setting goals each year aren't something I usually do.  I get tired of missing the mark and being disappointed so I just skip the entire process.  Yet something about this writing today has drawn me to contemplate the coming year with a greater determination.  This determination is starting to encompass a number of aspects in my daily life.  As the new year comes to us in that swift way it has, may we spend the few days remaining in this year living in the moment called now, embracing the wonder of today. 
"So teach us to number our days, that we may get us a heart of wisdom.  Let Your work [the signs of Your power] be revealed to Your servants, and Your [glorious] majesty to their children.  And let the beauty and delightfulness and favor of the Lord our God be upon us; confirm and establish the work of our hands--yes, the work of our hands, confirm and establish it."  Psalm 90:12,16,17
"So do not worry or be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have worries and anxieties of its own.  Sufficient for each day is its own trouble." Matthew 6:34



Warmth of Love

The warmth of the sun permeated the vehicle as we made our way home following a visit with loved ones.  After several days of overcast skies and cold temperatures, the sun's brightness and warmth were eagerly welcomed.  Wonderingly, coats were removed, extra sweaters shed, and windows opened periodically to "let in some fresh air".   How could just a few miles make so much difference?  As I think about the drastic difference between the weather at the start of our trip home and the weather at it's end, I can't help but consider the effect of God's love on our hearts and lives. 

Talk about a drastic difference!  Without God's love in our lives, our hearts are cold, bruised, broken, and weary, much like the bitter cold of an overcast sky.  Our viewpoint is focused solely on ourselves.  When the warmth of God's love enters our heart, however, His love does more than merely warm the cold places.  It heals our bruised and battered lives and infuses us with a mighty strength that only the Father can give.  We find ourselves considering others instead of ourselves, and everyone around us can bask in the Love of God shining out from us.  Not only are we healed and made whole by His love, but those around us can receive a healing touch by God through us.  God's love doesn't stay hidden inside of us.  It fills us up and runs over onto all those around us.  People who come in contact with us each day can experience the infusing warmth of God's love as it begins to permeate their lives.  Just as the sunshine's warmth permeated our vehicle yesterday, the warmth of God's love will permeate those around us and bring a healing touch to their hearts and lives.

Oh dear Lord,
I pray that everywhere I go, every word I say, and everyone I come in contact with today will be able to experience Your love flowing out from me to them.  May Your healing touch heal their broken hearts, bruised and battered spirits, and may others know of You and Your intensely extravagant love for them.  As the warmth of Your love fills me to overflowing, may the overflow touch someone's life today.  Thank You for the healing warmth of Your love, In Jesus' name, Amen.


Have You Ever...

OK, I was going to concentrate really hard on enjoying the Christmas season with my family and not post much.  However...an "event" last night left me with no choice.  I  had to share yet another "Have You Ever...?" saga in my life's story. 

Last night was the baby shower of a dear friend.  Having received the best-ever receiving blanket after the birth of my last child, I now think that everyone else having a baby must receive one too.  So, as usual, instead of sewing these gifts as soon as I learned about the upcoming shower, I waited until the afternoon of and put together a couple of all-purpose cloths and one of the best-ever receiving blankets.  All went well except for the fact that after arranging everything nicely for wrapping, a little something else was needed---something like a cute little pink bunny.  No problem.  There's still a fair amount of time left, ok maybe just a little bit of time.  Anyway, the bunny is put together and stuffed.  Only there isn't time to stitch the face and sew the opening up both.  Well, reasoning that stitching the opening would be easier to do in a moving vehicle by booklight than embroidering the face, I pin the opening and stick it in the bundle just to see how cute it all looks together. 

Now things are hectic.  We need to leave in 15 minutes, I'm not dressed or fixed up, and the gift needs to be wrapped.  What does anyone reasonable woman do in a situation like this?  They do one thing at a time of course.  So I request that one child grab the wrapping paper in my room and another one grabs some ribbon.  I slap carefully place the gift bundle inside the paper, tape it up, tie on the ribbon, slip in the tag, change my clothes, throw on my face, and away we go!  Have you noticed the problem yet?  Uh-huh, in the frantic dash to get out of the door on time, I totally forgot I was going to finish sewing the bunny on the way to town.  Said bunny is now safely bundled up in an already wrapped gift.  

Imagine my horrified surprise when my friend unwrapped her gift, exclaimed over the cute bunny and pulled it out---pins and all.  AND of course I couldn't just sit there quietly and tell her about the mistake later.  Noooooooooo, I burst out "I forgot to finish sewing it together!  Oh my goodness!  I left the pins in!"  for all of the other shower goers to hear, as if they couldn't see for themselves.  Thankfully I was among friends and we all laughed together.  It was only in my wildly imaginative mind that I could hear them wondering how on earth anyone could possibly do something like that.

Oh well, I happen to know that there are still a couple of other "Have You Ever...?" stories running around out there.   Besides, I'm just adding to this year's Christmas Cheer.


A Great, Comforting Word

Francis Frangipane:
He Sees the End from the Beginning and He Will Make a Way
Taxes, threat of terror attacks, illness and aging, finances, political conflicts, family relationships, church struggles, fears, insurance issues, air travel impositions, job loss, gasoline prices, war, injustice, death – these are just a few of the enemies most of us face daily. Yet, let me also tell you what the Lord has spoken to my soul:
"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7).
The Lord doesn't want us to simply possess a generalized peace, based on having no particular problems; nor does He plan to give us a slightly spiritual, yet human-sized kind of peace. If we follow the sequence of obedience He presents, His intention is to shelter us in His very own peace: the imperturbable peace of God.
The peace of God is the deep calm that envelops the thought processes of the Almighty. He is never anxious, always in command, never without a remedy. He sees the end from the beginning and views the needs of man from the position of unlimited resources and capabilities. He perceives the needs of His children with both compassion and confidence, for all things are possible for Him.
The peace He gives is not only from Him, it is an extension of Him – it is the very substance of His peace. It is God-sized peace. It is this divine fabric that He says will "guard [our] hearts and...minds in Christ Jesus."
Many Verses Same Promise
Some may challenge my interpretation, but remember the Savior's promise:
"Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful" (John 14:27).
Again, Paul says,
"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful" (Colossians 3:15).
These Scriptures and others reveal that there exists a place of refuge for us, a dimension guarded by God's very peace, where we can abide. As we enter this realm of trust, the God of peace promises to actually crush satan beneath our feet (Romans 16:20).
Give Peace A Chance
Of course, we must decide what realm shall preside over us. Thus, the Scripture says, "Let the peace of Christ rule," and "Do not let your heart be troubled," and "Let your requests be made known to God." The word let speaks of choices we can make with realities that are at hand. Remember, even as circumstances begin to trouble your heart, you can retreat from fear. For the peace of God is also accessible. Take authority over your fretting, worrying attitude, for "it leads only to evildoing" (Psalm 37:8). Stand, instead, in faith upon the promises of God.
Peace is our shield and the Word of God our weapon. Therefore, capture negative, unbelieving thoughts that would magnify problems rather than magnify the Lord. Our Father knows what we have need of before we ask Him (Matthew 6:8).
Cease striving and know that He is God! If you are weary, come to Him and take His yoke upon you. You will find rest for your soul. Finally, recall Paul's words to make our requests "with thanksgiving." Many have been thinking too much and thanking too little. Therefore, let us cast our burdens upon the Lord, for He indeed cares for us. He will make a way.
Francis Frangipane
Ministries of Francis Frangipane
Email: francis1@frangipane.org


200 POSTS!!!

200 POSTS!  Can you believe it?  200 times I have sat at this computer and posted something to this blog.  Wow!  That's a lot of posting, and that's a lot of time.  Wow.  This post is beginning to sound like a broken record.  Sorry about that.  200 posts just seems so much more than 100 did.  OK, enough about that topic.  Let's move on.  HOPEFULLY...by the time we have completed our visit, Colonel Redeemed (16 yrs. old son) will have ceased making a comment on every single sentence I type :)  He's "spending time with his mother".  We won't tell that this is something he is supposed to do for a youth assignment.  Oops, too late.  Sorry, Colonel Redeemed. 

Speaking of Colonel Redeemed, I am so thankful for the children God has rewarded me with. (Psalm 127:3)  They are a ton of fun!  No, they are not always fun, but they are fun a lot.  THAT is the part I am thankful for this day, the fun part.  Laughing together is one of my favorite things about our larger family. 
When I was a child growing up with the dream of someday being a mother, the greatest blessings of motherhood never even crossed my mind.  My sweet, little childhood dream of motherhood didn't hold a candle to reality.  The joys are infintely greater, but then again, so are the sorrows.  Everything about motherhood is greater.  Actually, everything about life is magnified when compared with what I dreamed it would be. 

As a result of it all, good or bad, gain or loss, I am a better person.  I am less selfish, more observant, less critical, more patient.   I see things I wouldn't have ever seen by myself, and my family has experienced things they wouldn't have without me.  Together we are stronger, happier, and better than any of us would be alone.  One of the greatest blessings in my life is being a part of WE rather than merely being ME. Thank you Lord for the WE that keeps me from majoring in ME.  May WE together always look unto THEE.  In Christ's name, Amen.

On my way out the door, I want to tell you about a couple of really fun things going on.  First things first.  I'm not sure I've ever done this before, but I'm mentioning a TV show that might be enjoyable.  It is on Mondays and Wednesdays, 8 p.m.CT.  The show is titled The Sing Off.  It features several groups of singers who perform songs from various genres and eras acapella before a panel of three judges and an audience.  That's right, everything must be done acapella. The show is similar in form to American Idol, but much, much better.  Each time, two groups are voted off with the remaining groups continuing to compete for a $100,000 prize, recording contract, and something else I can't remember right now.  The musicality in this show is OFF THE CHARTS!  The Sing Off  is my new favorite TV show.  Considering how much I enjoy some of my other shows, that is saying something.  Also, I realize that there are many,  many varying opinions on television out there.  For those who are of the "It's evil.  Don't watch it." camp, please don't send me any negative emails or attack comments.  Those who do enjoy TV, I hope you like the show too.  It would be really fun to have more like this aired. 

Well, I guess I only have one really fun thing to tell you.  I forgot the other.  Need to drink more water.  It's supposed to help with that forgetting thing.  Until our next visit, keep on having a Merry Christmas season!


A Branch Shall Grow Out of His Roots

"There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots." Isaiah 11:1

Jesus is that Branch! He is the One who was born in the city of David a Savior, Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:11) Here at A Mother's Rewards we are doing something brand new this Christmas season. We are creating a Jesse Tree.

A Jesse Tree can take many different shapes and forms. Some may be sewn of cloth. Others may be constructed of paper. A Christmas tree, branches, whatever a person is able to use works just fine. Each day of the advent season we read a devotion and put an ornament that represents that day's devotion on our tree. The devotional we are using came to us by way of http://www.aholyexperience.com/. A Jesus Advent Celebration...every day unwraps more of His love ~ Jesse Tree Journey by Ann Voskamp and Nancy Rodden is the ebook devotional that is becoming one of my new favorite parts of the Christmas season. Each day I am refreshed and my focus is redirected towards Christ. The peace that renewed focus brings is a gift beyond compare. I've said it before, and I'll probably say it again "I am one Blessed Mama", and it's all because of Jesus.

Time is rapidly speeding by. It won't be long until Christmas has come and past. Long after the lights have been dimmed and the wrappings thrown away the love of God through Christ will still be flowing through those who know and love Him. May the blessings of Christmas be yours in greater measure.


Better Late Than Never


When reading through my emails this morning I came across something that touched my heart like nothing has for a while, One Thousand Gifts. It isn't Monday, but after reading the post from http://www.aholyexperience.com/ I had to begin my thousand gift list. The gifts simply won't wait to be listed. No. 1-20

* children's laughter
* beautiful piano music providing the perfect backdrop
* the jingle of Christmas bells on the door
* the crispness of white paper
* the songs of a four-year-old
* a little brother's concern for his "big" sister
* the rattle of teaspoons in the kitchen
* food in the pantry
* Christmas gifts that are almost complete
* Secret blessings for others
* whispers between sisters in the dark
* children playing and working together
* hazel-green eyes shining up at me
* requests for "another book?"
* sunshine shining on the frost
* a warm fire in the stove
* a child's desire to give to others
* warm embraces of love
* the symphony of nature outside my door
* the nudge of my dog's wet nose looking for attention

Thankfulness is contagious. I want to catch it still more. How about you? Willing to join me in counting one thousand gifts? Let's not stop at merely one thousand. Let's continue counting on and on and on.


Settling Down and Earning the Bread We Eat

Recently while reading an article in a book on mothering, I came across this advice given by Judge Phillip Gilliam of Denver, CO.   Apparently some of the young people in his city had been asking what there was to do.  Here is the Judge Gilliam's reply:

"Go home! Hang the storm windows, paint the woodwork, rake the leaves, mow the lawn, wash the car, learn to cook, scrub the floors, repair the swing, build a boat, get a job, help the poor, study your lessons...and when you are through and not too tired, read a good book!"

What marvelous advice!  Some days I need to remember Judge Gilliam's advice myself.  Most days find me beyond happy and content at home, but sometimes...thoughts of how much more time I would have if I didn't homeschool and other discontented nonsense waft through. Those days when my thoughts begin to drift out towards the sea of discontent, I need to "Get back home! to the Word of God with my thoughts.  2 Thessalonians 3:11-12 says this "We hear that some among you are idle.  They ar enot busy; they are busybodies.  Such people we command urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat." 

So often in our society, we develop an attitude that each of us has a right to be entertained and provided with pleasant activities with which to occupy our days.  How much happier many would be if they discovered the hidden joy of being busy at home.  Even simple, humble tasks can produce great satisfaction and happiness.  If only more people in positions of authority would share such wise advice as Judge Gilliam has, what a difference would be seen among the youth.


Travel Kits - A Great Gift for Anytime

Good Afternoon!

Blessed Mama here with a fun idea for gift-giving any time of the year---Christmas too, Travel Kits. Travel kits are a fun and unique way of blessing others---or your own family. They are special gifts filled with fun little treats and/or activities to make travel time more enjoyable. While small children (and their families) would obviously benefit from such a thoughtful gift, travel gifts are for any and every age of traveler. Imagine the fun opening little surprises throughout a trip would bring. I’m sure that many a mama fills a special bag with activities and treats to occupy her children during travel, but imagine receiving such a bag from a friend where each item was boxed up or wrapped in a special way. Just opening each item would provide oodles and scoodles of fun. Receiving such a surprise would be great, now think of how much more fun such a treat would be to give. Not only are travel kits tons of fun, they can also be assembled in fantastic frugal fashion.

Travel kits are also one of the featured ideas found in the December Molly Membership Resources. Molly Members receive a free ebook on creating travel kits in December. If you haven’t signed up to become a Molly Member, this month would be an excellent time to do so. December’s Molly’s Digest can be purchased for $4.95 OR anyone can sign up for a monthly membership and receive the digest and membership resources for just $3.95. The Travel Kits ebook in December’s resources provides enough gift-giving ideas to pay for the cost of monthly membership several times over---and there are more resources besides! If for any reason a person wishes to cancel their membership, they may do so with no hassle--nada. Each month’s digest contains a weekly menu with recipes and grocery list included for printing out, printable forms for household organization, and many more frugal ideas for fun, decorating, and family time. As if all of that weren’t enough, Molly members also receive bonus resources for FREE pertaining to each month’s topic. What a great gift to yourself or someone else Molly Membership would be.

Travel Kits are a great example of Living Large on Less. However, if a person’s budget doesn’t require Living on Less, assembling Travel Kits would still be fun. Yes, A Mother’s Rewards and Living Large on Less are affiliates of Molly’s Digest, however…even if we weren’t, we would still be spreading the news about Travel Kits. We can’t wait to put some together ourselves. If you catch the Travel Kit bug too, please send us an email along with pictures at amothersrewards@gmail.com.  We'd love to share in the fun.