5.30.2011

Here We Are

Here we are beginning our second week of summer break.  Can you feel the lack of tension all the way to your house?  Wouldn't surprise me.  What is it about summer that I love?  Hmmm, let me think, everything.  Yup, that pretty much sums it up; summer is my favorite time of every year.  If I put bumper stickers on  my vehicles, I could have one that says "I heart summer".   Usually, I go with the flow, roll with the punches, and let happen what happens concerning summer days.  This year is different.  This year I'm being intentional. 

I am intentionally enjoying every second of hanging out clothes.  Stopping to breathe deeply and drink in the scent of new mown grass is taking place on purpose.  Listening to children squeal with delight as they play, that too is happening on purpose, intentional. 

Reading Ann Voskamp's book One Thousand Gifts, a Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are has played a part in my decision to live intentionally, but God has woven several things into my life lately to get me to this exact point.  Not wanting anyone to miss out on the unlimited blessings of being intentional, there is a question I'd like to ask.  Before we go any further, please promise that you will really, truly read this question, not quickly skim over it and click delete. 

OK, here's the question:  if you knew that everything you needed to live the life you have been created for to the fullest was already yours, how would you live?  Like you do now?  What would be different?  What would stay the same?  Guess I had more than one question.  Anyway, think about it.  For reals.  Guess what?  It has.  Everything has been provided through and by Jesus.  I have known this truth for years, but for some reason, it took awhile for me to know it.  Everything.  It's in me.  Everything to live to the fullest.  The fullest is full.  It isn't some religious concept, it's reality.  God is good, and He delights in blessing me--and all of His children.

2 Peter 1:3 NKJV - "as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue,"

Colossians 2:2-9 NKJV - "that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.  Now this I say lest anyone should deceive you with persuasive words.  For though I am absent in the flesh, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.  As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.  Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.  For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power."

Living intentionally, intentional living, my favorite time of year is getting even better.

Quick Tip

Ahhhhhhhhh, it's that rare moment of quiet that sometimes shows up in between the afternoon and the evening.   As much time as I spend in the kitchen, you would think Abundance would be mostly cooking and recipes with a little smidgen of other stuff thrown in, but it hasn't turned out that way.   Anyway, here's a little tip that I use often when baking:  when recipes instruct to sift flour and/or other ingredients, use a wire whisk to do the job.  Not only will this save on the expense of purchasing a sifter, there isn't another something to clean up afterwards.  What kitchen won't breathe more freely with one less gadget in the cupboards?  Hope this tip serves you as well as it has me!  So long until next time.

5.20.2011

Why

I started this little, old blog
I'm really not sure why
It seems I had some things to say
How? I didn't know, I could only try

There was a time I tried to say
Those things that bloggers say
I tried some games, some things for fun
Very few wanted to play

Aha!  I thought as I read some more
That's what I need to do
But that too didn't seem to work
What should I do today?

I almost quit.  I really did.
This blog I almost stopped.
Then decided to pray, see what God had to say
Should I stop?  No, He said, start

Start?  I have not quit
The posts they come along
But did you write the things I led
Or did you go along

With other styles and other ways
That others were led to say
When did I tell you to leave the path
Why from my voice did you stray

Oh dear, I did, I now confess
I tried it on my own
This blog was started for You dear Lord
For You, and You alone

So here I sit a typing fast
I'm listening to His voice
It's Him I want to speak from here
He is the only choice

Will there be fun and games ahead
Of this I do not know
Will gardening fill the posts with growth
Or crafts, or books, or song

I do not know
This is the truth
There's only one, sure fact
God is the author of this blog
I just type, and that is that.

5.19.2011

Oh Be Careful Little Lips What You Say

Motherhood contains many joys and unexpected blessings.  It also provides more revelations of my true self than any thing else could.  A poem I read earlier shares one such "revelation" almost every mother experiences.  The author is unknown, but it could have been me.  Here is...

RECOGNITION
"I don't want to hear another word!" I hear my daughter scold.
"Dear Me!" I think, "She's awfully strict for a playful three year old."

She rolls her eyes heavenward and sighs with great disdain
"What am I going to do with you?" Her dolls hear her complain.

"Sit down! Be still! Hold out your hands! Do you have to walk so slow?
Pick up your toys! Go brush your teeth! Eat all your carrots! Blow!"

I start to tell her how gentle a mother ought to be
When blushingly, I realize she's imitating ME!
(Author Unknown)




5.18.2011

A Love Affair to Remember

Spring's flowers will soon be held in the hands of blushing brides as they float down the isle to enter a state of marital bliss.  These brides are presently walking through a season of blissful delirium commonly referred to as romance.   It's that marvelous, wonderful, tremendously fantastic ecstasy portrayed in romance novels and media presentations known to some as chick flicks.   Can you hear the sighs as all of those smiles   spread across our lips? Enjoyable?  Oh yes.  Fun?  Most definitely.  But is this popular portrayal of love really, truly real?  Is this what romance is, for reals?  Yes, I believe that the popular notion of romance, the I'm becoming a melting pool of butta at your feet version, is indeed one of the many seasons of romance. 

Seasons of romance?  That's right, romance has seasons.  Romance hides within it's depths secret mysteries of blessing.  While heart-pounding, starry eyes, and sighs of bliss are real, they are but one of the many faces romance wears.  Those who are strong and brave enough to see, discover the true wonders of romance, the rarely shared clues to the great mystery.  

What are the secrets romance hides?   That is part of the mystery.  No one can tell you the sweet treasures romance hides; they have to be discovered.  I can share this: if you are willing to look where you haven't looked before and see in a way you've never before seen, romance is there.  It's all around, in the simple and everyday.  That's where the truth about romance is found, in the ordinary.  When one is looking through the eyes of true love, ordinary mysteriously becomes extraordinary.  Nothing changes,yet everything is different. 

No matter a person's age or how many years a couple has been married, romance abounds for all.  We just have to be looking like God looks and seeing like He sees.  Wait a minute.  I can almost hear the intake of breath and see the doubt entering the eyes, romance and God?  God is the originator of romance.  He created it, for us.  The God of the universe is the ultimate romantic.  Don't believe me?  Read Song of Solomon, read the Psalms, read Esther, and Hosea and basically every other book of the Bible.  The Bible is filled with romance.  God is love.(I John 4:8)  Romance is when life is seen through the eyes of true love (God) (I Corinthians 13) making the ordinary extraordinary.  Plainly stated, romance is the story of the Bible. 

Each of us has a unique romantic fingerprint to place on our covenant relationships.  What screams romance for one couple may not even be a whisper for another.  Different seasons speak differing languages of love.  As we enter the upcoming wedding season, let us each open our eyes and view the one we love through the eyes of Him who first loved us.  Let's allow the mystery of romance, the ordinary becoming extraordinary to sweeten our homes each day.  Who knows?  we might find our hearts wildly thumping, our eyes sparkling, and us melted in a pool of butta at the feet of the one we love. Better still, we might discover the wild thrill of a secret known only by ourselves and our beloved as we share a look, a quick glance where the upraised eyebrow tells a tale of two.

As for My Beloved and I, we're going to grab some iced tea, sit down, and enjoy being together, just he and I.   What is that naughty little gleam in his eye?  What's that he says?  He says that's the reason I married him, because he's naughty?  I can't help it; I'm laughing with delight.  How can I help but laugh at this naughty man who is ever so nice?  This Beloved Man of God who loves me big and sure and strong.  Many seasons of romance have grown in twenty years of marriage.  Some were wild and heavy; others were soft and sweet.  All were perfect.  Exactly perfect for where and who we were then and now.  We're finding ourselves smack dab in the middle of a love affair with God and each other, A Love Affair to Remember.

5.17.2011

Fun - For Free!

Recently when chatting with the kiddos about fun games, I began travelling through time past.  Visions of youth parties long ago jogged my memory of a surprising number of games.  Fun games long forgotten. 

Summer is fast approaching and with it the potential for gatherings and reunions of all varieties.  Staycations and local amusements are the talk of the media.  Economy and frugality are the new "in" among families.  Whether you are looking for an inexpensive activity to up the summer's fun factor or looking for something different and new, yet old, the games we're sharing today are time-tested and Mama approved. (Blessed Mama that is)

HOT POTATO
At least one modern, battery-operated version is available from retailers.  However, we're talking about the old-fashioned beanbag variety. 
SUPPLIES NEEDED:beanbag or other soft item to use as a "potato", music and someone to turn music on and off
Have game participants sit in a circle, either on the floor or seated in chairs.  Once music has begun, players quickly pass the beanbag aka potato to the player next to them.  The "potato" continues around the circle until the music stops.  The player holding the "potato" when the music stops either removes themselves from the circle with the games continuing until only one player remains OR the player holding the "potato" when the music stops can answer a question of the leaders choice.  This game works well with gatherings of all ages and would be an excellent ice breaker if the option of answering questions was used.  
Another game similar to HOT POTATO is the always popular MUSICAL CHAIRS.  As in Hot Potato, music and someone to turn the music on and off is needed.  Unlike Hot Potato, One less chair than people participating are placed back to back in the center of the playing area.  When the music begins, players walk around the chairs dropping into the nearest chair as soon as the music stops.  The player left chairless steps out of the game taking a chair out of the center with him/her.  Play continues until two players and one chair remain.  The "winner" is the player who gets into the remaining chair. 

Both of these games would be a fun addition to any gathering and all ages. Music can be chosen to match any taste, theme, or occasion.  Need a fun way to memorize facts or memory verses?  Instead of removing themself from the game, the participant holding the potato or missing the chair could be required to answer a question or recite a verse.  Simple games of yesteryear provide hilarious fun while creating memories to last a lifetime.  By the way, have you ever been measured for a casket? That's another fun game - for another post.

A Time of War

The other day, a while back, our family, was discussing the death of Osama Bin Laden. The conversation randomly meandered through the topic covering all of the rabbit trails it brought to light.  One of those trails was the current war on terrorism which led to discussions of when it began, what the exact year was, etc.  All of sudden, something that was said reached out and grabbed my attention.  Even though the conversation being referred to took place over a week ago, the comment still has my attention; it hasn't let go.  The comment was made that the current war on terrorism our nation is engaged in has been going on for over nine, soon to be ten years.  Whoa!  Wait a sec, back up, back up, coming on ten years?  Quick figuring, it was Mustard Seed's fifth birthday, she will be 15 this year.  Yes, that's right!  It will be ten years!   For ten years our nation has been at war.  For ten years our young men and women have gone off to fight against injustice and for freedom.  Ten years! 

Now the realizations come even faster.  Realizations that are MUCH closer to home.  My two youngest children have never lived without war.  Having only been two years old at the time this war began, horsegirl can't remember a time when there wasn't war going on either.  Not of This World, Colonel Redeemed, and a Mustard Seed, do remember and yes, they say, life was different - before war.

Before war.  A time that many of today's youth barely remember and children nine and under haven't ever known.  I found myself thinking hard, attempting to recall the years before.  Were they different?  Really, were they?  Two of my daughters and one son insist they were.  In what way? I inquire of them.  They aren't sure.  They just know life changed, and it hasn't been exactly the same since.  It's more of a feeling, one of them say.  It's just different they all agree.  It isn't really bad, though it definitely isn't good.  As they think, pondering, wondering the right words to say what doesn't know how to be said, I witness something, a transformation, there's a tension, something binding that slides off of them and falls away.  None of us have been able to put anything into words, and yet somehow the talking has been enough.  Even if nothing was said, the trying to say it has begun a healing. 

Healing?  Healing from what?  I don't know.  My children haven't fought in this war.  They only know a few who actually have.  Yet I can't deny what I saw that day.   I can't pretend that this war hasn't affected my family.  For I saw it, I witnessed with my very own eyes the nameless something fall off and leave as the oldest three children try to tell of a time they barely remember.  Something else, was it relief? relaxes the expressions on their faces. These children who aren't in any way connected with the war, have nonetheless been affected.  Their lives have been altered, and they know nothing has been the same.  They were young, only 5,7, and 9, that unforgettable day of 9-11, yet they too have stories to tell, memories to remember.

After several days of pondering, another thought visited, what about the wars others don't see?  The inner fights and struggles hidden inside, how do they affect the children of God?  We all have them, these unseen enemies.  Everyone of us fights them every day.  They are terrorists using the age-old tactics of guerrilla warfare.  Unexpectedly, out of nowhere, BAM! feelings of inferiority hit.  Or maybe we get blasted with childhood insecurities we thought defeated.  We're bopping along happy as a clam enjoying all of the pretty butterflies and *SMACK* an unseen foe clouds up and rains on our parade.  Where did that come from?  If we are on guard and alert, we whip out the Sword of the Spirit (God's Word) and make quick work of the enemy, but what about the other times?  What about the times we are tired, lonely, and distracted, what then?  We winch and keep walking. 

Now, however, instead of enjoying the butterflies we're wary; we become suspicious and start putting up our defenses.  We begin to follow the old adage that says "Happens once, shame on you.  Happens, twice shame on me."  "That's not ever happening to me again" becomes our theme song playing over and over in our minds.  Eventually we are constantly on guard against personal attack.  The only problem is that because we are viewing life through the glasses of pain and hurt, everything seems like an attack.  We become like my children, needing to talk but not knowing it.  The tension, that nameless dread will fall away as soon as we begin to share.  Even when what needs saying doesn't know how to be said, it's in the trying that healing comes. 

Our Heavenly Father God sees and knows.  Unlike this earthly Mama, in His Omniscience, He knows our every need.  He is lovingly waiting to gather us into His lap and listen as we attempt to tell Him, everything.  The big hurts, the little hurts, and the I don't know what in the world this is hurts, He wants to hear it all; He's our Father.  As our words tumble out, our faces show relief, they relax and become soft.  The healing touch of the Father's listening ear and loving embrace do for His children more than an earthly parent's ever could. 

I have to ask, are you in the middle of a war in your life?  Maybe the foe you are facing isn't unseen.  Maybe it has a name.  Maybe it has a fierce and ferocious name.  Have No Fear.  Nothing and/or no one is too big for God.  Come to the Father today.  Share with Him the cares of your heart.  He longs for you with an immeasurable love.  Come close.  He won't turn you away.    "Jesus loves me this I know ~ for the Bible tells me so ~ little ones to Him belong ~ they are weak but He is strong"

Be back later.  I'm on my way to the Father's lap.  There's something I want to tell Him.  Won't you join me?

5.13.2011

Palate-Pleasing Party Food

It's that time of year again; graduation receptions, bridal showers, parties abound.  When putting together a gathering, we all want those attending to be treated with extra special refreshments.  Abundance would like to join in the fun and share a couple of ideas to turn ordinary food into special party fare.

So...what is party food?  Party food is any food you and the one being celebrated and/or honored enjoy.  That is party food.  Now, because this is a party, we probably won't serve our favorite food in quite the same ole, everyday manner.  This is the time to dust off the company dishes or break out of the box with creative serving pieces.  Ex. A hollowed out pumpkin or burlap bag for an Autumn harvest theme, bandanas under metal plates for a western get together, or champagne glasses and a beautiful cake plate topped with a doily for an extra special occasion add an elegant touch. 

EXAMPLE #1:
Instead of serving traditional cheesecake on a plate, we'll bake our cheesecake in a sheetcake pan and cut it into small servings.  These bite-sized morsels of goodness will then be adorned with crushed nuts, chocolate syrup, caramel syrup, butterscotch syrup, fruit syrups, pieces of fruit, tiny dollops of whipped cream, or anything else desired.  The plain cheesecake has suddenly become elegant and delicious party fare.

EXAMPLE #2:
Truffles.  Traditional truffles can be expensive to make if you don't look for the sales.  Fun, unexpected alternatives can be substituted with great success.  Try making chocolate cookie dough without the eggs, roll the dough into balls, chill until firm, and dip into melted chocolate and allow chocolate to harden.  
Hopefully these ideas will spark a blaze of creativity in the party fare you serve up at your next event.  Whether it's serving simple food in an over the top way or using unique containers as serving pieces, don't be afraid to take a chance and use the unexpected.  Your guests will know how much you care by the extra little touches throughout.  Blessings to You, Blessed Mama

Leftover Delight

Have an unusual combination of leftovers in the fridge and wondering what to do with them?  Recently at Abundance we faced the same dilemma.  Sirloin steak cut into strips, seasoned with our usual blend of salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and cooked on a hot griddle were combined with leftover spaghetti noodles to create an impromptu stir-fry that has definitely been added to our list of go-to quick meals.  The only way it could have been better (in Blessed Mama's opinion) is if veggies had been added for color.  

Not only did our leftovers produce a quick and easy meal, cutting the meat into strips and mixing with spaghetti stretched the meat so that it fed more than it would have on its own.  Economic, timesaving, and best of all tasty, this dish was definitely a win-win.  Of course once I tasted the dish and realized we had a winner, other possible combinations of spices and veggies began flying through my mind.  Here are some of the variations that might be fun to try:
  • Italian seasoning with multi-colored peppers and tomatoes/sauce - this could be served with a salad and french bread on the side
  • Chili seasoning and cumin with diced jalapenos and tomatoes - a side of nacho cheese and chips would be tasty
  • ginger, soy sauce, and traditional stir fry veggies with rice or angel hair pasta
  • spaghetti noodles could also be replaced with other varieties of pasta or rice
  • Chicken, turkey, ham, chopped pork roast, italian sausage, polish sausage, brats, or any other meat sitting in the fridge works great in place of the beef
Ready to raid the fridge and see what your imagination comes up with?  Me too!  Please don't forget to share your favorite combinations with us!  Feel free to tell us at amothersrewards@gmail.com or leave a comment sharing your favorite meal made from leftovers.  Love ya!   

5.07.2011

Letting Go

God has revealed something very interesting to me.  It's not a fact that particularly pleases me.  Honestly, I denied it for quite a long time.  Of course, I didn't know I was in denial, but I was.  Double yuck: denial and that interesting thing.  As much as I hate to admit it, and just for the record, I've been working really, really hard to change, (I'm making progress too) I. AM. A. CONTROL. FREAK.  There!  I said it.  Outloud.  Well, sort of out loud.  Does blogging count as out loud?  It does with me.

Guess what finally caused me to see this big, ole ugly fact.  My 17-year-old son.  Yep.  Nothing like a teenage son to expose all of the hidden "yuck" in a Mama.  Bored with where you are in life right now?  Find a teenage boy and HANG ON.  What a ride!  It's better, or worse, than a rollercoaster.   Up, down, over, under, alley-oop and that's just in the first 15 minutes of the day.  Lest it seem as if I am on an "anti-teenage boy" campaign, let me get to the good stuff.  'Cause there is good, a lot of it.

Colonel Redeemed has always been what I have frequently referred to as "my sanity saver".  Until a little over two years ago, he was the only male child in a house of five children.  When his sisters engaged in the emotional upheaveals that we of the female species sometimes do, Colonel Redeemed's manly steadiness saved the moment for this Blesssed Mama more than once.  When the oft predicted turbulent storms of the male teenage years that strike the parents of young men hadn't stirred the family seas at 13, 14, or 15, I was thankful.  Ever so thankful.  When year 16 passed without those violent storms, this mama heaved a sigh of relief.  We've made it I thought.  The stormy years have passed, and we've all made it through, gloriously.  Uh-huh.  How naive can I be?  Don't answer that question!  I mean it!  Don't.  PLEASE.

Year 17 began as any other.  Notice I said began as any other.  Does anyone remember being a teenager?  Would you do it again?  Me neither.  "What happened God?  What did I do wrong?  Where has my sweet boy gone?"  (Did you catch the key word there? boy?)  The Lord quietly and calmly (how could He be calm about this?)  asked me what was wrong.  "What's wrong?  Colonel Redeemed is what is wrong.  He's angry and moody and when I correct him for obviously unacceptable behavior, he can't figure out what's wrong with the way he spoke to me.  He sounded hateful to me. I'm his Mama.  He sounded hateful to. his. MAMA!"  The words God spoke next stopped my big baby mama fit short.  "You didn't treat him right just now.  You're the adult.  You've been a teenager before.  He hasn't.  He's never tried living and thinking and behaving responsibly and respectfully while hormones and chemicals race all through his body changing from moment to moment.  You don't need a well-behaved son right now.  Your son needs a gentle, compassionate, understanding mother." 

Yes, I cried but not like a baby.  I cried the gut-wrenching, heartfelt cries of a mother who realizes she has wounded her son.  My son, my sanity saver, my hilarious goofball, my staunch defender.  My little boy is now a young man, not a boy.  He has to make his own set of stupid mistakes, just like I did.  Oh sure, he'll need loving guidance and suggestions, but ultimately, living his life is completely up to him now.   And what about mama?  She has to let go.  I have to let go.   I can't fix it or make it better.  If he chooses to do one thing only to find out another was better, that's ok.  That's how he will learn.  And when he chooses what I wouldn't, the choice won't necessarily be wrong.  It will be his.  My choice doesn't equal the right one just because it's mine.  He doesn't need a bossy nag.  He needs a Mama's undying love, a shelter of grace in the middle of the crashing waves of young manhood. 

I apologized.  This mama who has held on tight for all these years looked in the eyes of her oldest manchild and spoke out love.  I released him to God, again.  As I told this Mighty Man of God that I was learning to let go, to be a new kind of Mama, the storm in his eyes calmed into peace.  The angry snarl melted into a smile at my confession (he was trying not to laugh at my tears), and there he was! my son.  He'd been there all along.  He was splashing about in the sea of change trying desperately to stay afloat.  My dear son had needed his mama to throw him the lifeline of her love.  Oh the thanksgiving that flooded my heart, thanksgiving and also great grief.  Thanksgiving to God for His mercy and healing grace.  Grief for wounding when I should have healed.  Grief at learning my son was hurting, and I am the one who did it.  Me, his mama.  Oh, thank you God for Your magnificent grace. 

The seas were calm today between Colonel Redeemed and I.  I'm learning.  Really I am.   It's hard this new season of Mama-ing.  Really hard.  Most real things are though.  Learned that from The Velveteen Rabbit.
Colonel Redeemed  got a call from a friend asking him to go to the movies tonight.   He asked his friend what the movie he wanted to see was.  It wasn't a movie a believer would want to see and hear.  Colonel Redeemed told his friend, kindly, like a man would do, and the friend was glad.  He hadn't known.  Earlier, before that, Colonel Redeemed played with Giggle and Mighty Man of God (age 2) laughing hard and having fun.  This big, 6 foot plus 17-year-old plays like he is four and two yet helps his mama like a man.  Child or man?  Plays big, works hard.  New seasons are new to all, mama and son, papa too.  Together we learn to let go of old ways and embrace the now of today.   Whatever he is now, whatever he becomes, this much I know, Colonel Redeemed is a child of the Most High God and this I believe, through faith in Jesus and His Word, will never change.  Thank you God for little boy sons who become mighty men.

5.06.2011

New Life

"If then you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, thus sharing His resurrection from the dead], aim at and seek the [rich, eternal treasures] that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
And set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth.
For [as far as this world is concerned] you have died, and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God.
When Christ, Who is our life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in [the splendor of His] glory.
So kill (deaden, deprive of power) the evil desire lurking in your members [those animal impulses and all that is earthly in you that is employed in sin]: sexual vice, impurity, sensual appetites, unholy desires, and all greed and covetousness, for that is idolatry (the deifying of self and other created things instead of God).
It is on account of these [very sins] that the [holy] anger of God is ever coming upon the sons of disobedience (those who are obstinately opposed to the divine will),
Among whom you also once walked, when you were living in and addicted to [such practices].
But now put away and rid yourselves [completely] of all these things: anger, rage, bad feeling toward others, curses and slander, and foulmouthed abuse and shameful utterances from your lips!
Do not lie to one another, for you have stripped off the old (unregenerated) self with its evil practices,
And have clothed yourselves with the new [spiritual self], which is [ever in the process of being] renewed and remolded into [fuller and more perfect knowledge upon] knowledge after the image (the likeness) of Him Who created it.
[In this new creation all distinctions vanish.] There is no room for and there can be neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, [nor difference between nations whether alien] barbarians or Scythians [who are the most savage of all], nor slave or free man: but Christ is all and in all [everything and everywhere, to all men, without distinction of person].
Clothe yourselves therefore, as God's own chosen ones (His own picked representatives), [who are] purified and holy and well-beloved [by God Himself, by putting on behavior marked by] tenderhearted pity and mercy, kind feeling, a lowly opinion of yourselves, gentle ways, [and] patience [which is tireless and long-suffering, and has the power to endure whatever comes, with good temper].
Be gentle and forbearing with one another and, if one has a difference (a grievance or complaint) against another, readily pardoning each other; even as the Lord has [freely] forgiven you, so must you also [forgive].
And above all these [put on] love and enfold yourselves with the bond of perfectness [which binds everything together completely in ideal harmony].
And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state] to which as [members of Christ's] one body you were also called [to live]. And be thankful (appreciative), [giving praise to God always].
Let the word [spoken by] Christ (the Messiah) have its home [in your hearts and minds] and dwell in you in [all its] richness, as you teach and admonish and train one another in all insight and intelligence and wisdom [in spiritual things, and as you sing] psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making melody to God with [His] grace in your hearts.
And whatever you do [no matter what it is] in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus and in [dependence upon] His Person, giving praise to God the Father through Him."
Colossians 3:1-17 AMP

 With three teenagers, one almost teenager, and a mother in the house, there are a lot of hormonal and chemical changes taking place on a regular basis around here.  Just making it through another day often feels like a major accomplishment lately.  We love God with all our hearts, but we are still very, very, well...real.  So were the Puritans.  Our read aloud times have been about the tendency of the Puritans to follow a self-destructive cycle of sin.  They would become complacent spiritually, suffer grave hardship, repent, experience grace and mercy, be faithful, then gradually become complacent all over again.  Time after time, just like Biblical Israel, the Puritans and other settlers followed a pattern of sin. 

As I sat alone before the Lord, I found myself asking Him about possible sin in my life.  Knowing how "real"  I am, I wanted to know specific sins. After reading of the Puritans and their trials, I didn't want to wait until the consequences of sin showed up before bowing my heart and repenting.  Obeying an inner prompting, I began to read the above verses from Colossians chapter threeVerse six was the first verse I read "It is on account of these [very sins] that the [holy] anger of God is ever coming upon the sons of disobedience..."  But what are these sins?  Verse five explained in full, "all that is earthly in you that is employed in sin".  Now for the soul searching.  "Search me o God and know my heart..." (Psalm 139:23)

One of the things about God that blesses me is how complete He is.  There's nothing lacking in Him.  Everything He does, and says, is complete.  He corrects, then He goes on to instruct in the correct way.  He never leaves me in my sin; He always rescues me and teaches me a new way, the best way, His way.  Colossians 3:8-13 do just that.  

But God doesn't leave me there either.  He does one better.  In verses 14-17, He clearly tells me how to not only live righteously, free from sin, but also how to stay that way "And above all these [put on] love...And whatever you do [no matter what it is] in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus and in [dependence upon] His Person, giving praise to God the Father through Him."  

Thanks God.  I needed that.  How desperately I needed these words of Yours today.  Even as I sit here typing I find myself pausing to put away and rid myself of these things which anger You: the anger, the bad feelings, the grumpy, testy Mama bear voice.  Yes, Lord, I long to be clothed as Your own picked representative.  Behavior marked by tenderhearted pity and mercy, kind feeling, gentle ways, and patience, oh my yes, let's not forget the patience.  I need to be gentle and forbearing, and above all...above all...love must be put on.  And here it comes Lord; here it comes, the hymn, the spiritual song winging its way up and out of my heart. 

 I hear the sound of a life made new.  
It's the sound of redemption for me and for you.
It's calling out loud, so sweet and so strong.
Won't you come and sing, sing the song?

It's a song of deliverance, of healing, of power
Of lives made brand new, withered souls brought to flower
There's beauty and grace and forgiveness for all
Won't you run and come, heed the call?

It's the call of the Savior, He's calling your name.
He loves you; He made you; He's always the same
His love never changes, never fades, never leaves
Won't you let Him embrace You, and answer your need?

No need is so great that it cannot be met
No hurt is so deep healing won't heal, and yet,
The Lord is so gentle, so good and so kind,
He'll wait for you to want Him, before saying "You're Mine"

It's getting louder, the song's being sung
By all generations, both the old and the young
He's coming to get those who've made Him their Lord
Won't you come and accept and ignore Him no more?
   


5.05.2011

That's Using Your Noodle

OK, this girl is ready to craft!  Lookee at the extremely inexpensive, really great, easy to create, and yes, even versatile wreath I found a how-to for at The Art of Doing Stuff blog.  Seriously, check it out.  Wait!  Maybe you shouldn't, I might want to make you one for Christmas.  *giggle, giggle*  No, really, if your home's decor needs an inspiring intervention, a visit to The Art of Doing Stuff is in order. 

On a more serious note, the president has declared today, May 5,A National Day of Prayer.  Promiseland Home School felt honored to spend a portion of their morning joining others throughout our nation in lifting our nation and it's leaders up in prayer. 

After having spent time in prayer for our nation this morning, our afternoon reading from The Light and the Glory by Peter Marshall and David Manuel, seemed to have been selected specifically for today.  I have no doubt that in fact it was. (Ephesians 1:11b)  As the authors shared of the decline of focus on Christ and His way among the second and third generations of Puritans, our hearts were struck with the reality of similar sins in our own lives.  The realization that these sins which our forefathers lived out and walked in still continue on in us today revealed a deep-seated need for us to spend time repenting for the sins of not only our nation but those we had unknowingly practiced personally. 

Here is a portion of what was read :

"...just one generation after the arrival of the first comers. For faith was not something that could be passed on from generation to generation, or imparted by baptism or the partaking of Holy Communion.  In order for faith to come to flower, it must be planted in the soil of gratitude.
     But being born into town situations instead of having to carve them out of the wilderness, the succeeding generations would not know desperate need.  They would grow up never knowing what it meant to be persecuted for one's faith; to be mocked and scorned  or even  imprisoned merely because they loved God enough to attempt to put Him and His will before all else.  The sons of the fathers would never know what it was like to have no land no work and no say in how they were governed.  They would have no indelible memories etched into their minds of ten, twelve, sixten weeks of wet misery on the open seas--of living in tents or holes in the ground, while cold and sickness took one in two--of starving times which saw them on their hands and knees looking for ground nuts or grubbing for mussels to stay alive--and all for the sake of their combined faith in the vision of a Promised Land.
     Therefore they would not be inclined to put all their trust in God.  It was by His grace that they and their parents were being blessed, and while they might give lip service to His grace, the truth was that since they had never known anything else, they could hardly share the gratefulness of their parents....
     ...When a man can look at his own two hands and know what they are able to do...   when a man knows these things, he may well think that he does not need God as much.  And then it will follow that he does not need other men, either."


The statement about faith not being something that can be passed from generation to generation, imparted by baptism, or received by taking Holy Communion it must be planted in the soil of gratitude caught and held my attention.  Immediately the book by Ann Voskamp 1,000 gifts, came to mind.  There it was again, the all-knowing, perfectly ordered, divinely placed work of God.  Not for a second did I doubt that God has divinely planned for me to read a book about the life-changing power of thankfulness a.k.a. gratitude prior to reading the above words about faith.  He is SO good to His children! 

Did I say God is good?  Oh yes, He is---all the time.  Every time I spy the baby pepper, tomato, squash, and flower plants growing in the dining room windows, I remember it more and more.  Just a few short weeks ago, these plants were tiny seeds nestled down in the the moist earth.  Now they are small plants reaching their tiny arms up to the sun, longing for it's warming touch to help them grow.   I pray that I'm like those plants, holding up these human arms of mine to the Son, longing for His touch to cause me to grow.  I'm like those tomatoes you know.  It's only when the the rain of the Holy Spirit and the warmth of the Son fall on me that I can grow and produce fruit that can be used to nurture and feed those around me.  Oh God, hear I am, help me grow strong and sure in You.  I want my life to produce fruit that will comfort, cheer, heal, and nurture others.  How I pray that they will know it is You nourishing and healing them through me.  God glorified, now and forever, in Jesus' name, Amen.


Reaching for the Sun

5.03.2011

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