Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Safe in the Arms of...

...my husband. I know, the hymn title is "Safe in the Arms of Jesus," but often, when I'm afraid and pray to God, it is the arms of my husband that He uses to reassure me all is well.

I'm not trying to be blasphemous here, but to me, Eric exemplifies Christ more than any other person I know. He is the one Christ gave to me to love, protect, and care for me. So, when my husband puts his arms around me when I am sad, scared, or struggling, I feel that they are the arms of Christ and I feel so secure.

My favorite place to be in this world...

Safe in the arms of my husband.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Chosen

Ever since high school, I've been one of those people that everyone comes to with their questions and troubles. Why do people trust me? Why has God chosen me to be a counselor? I have enough problems. I am not Solomon, my life has many aspects where I do not exemplify wisdom.

All I can say is that by God's grace He uses me. For that, I am thankful to be able to touch other people's lives. And I am thankful for the lessons I've learned along the way.

Lessons I've learned in being a councilor:

1. I am first a friend. It's rare a stranger will come to me with their troubles, though it has happened. It's the people that I've become friends with. Some have made bad decisions. Not turning my back on them has gone far in earning their trust. (Maybe I'll write a whole post about that soon.)

2. Sometimes, a listening ear is all that is needed. When a person just talks about their problem, they may come to their own conclusions. I love that! All they need is to hear themselves speak out loud and for me to confirm their solution.

3. If I don't know the answer, it's OK for me to admit it. This builds trust, also. No one likes a know-it-all. I don't always need to have the answers. Sometimes, it's enough for the person to know that I'll pray that God will personally reveal the answers to them, that I still love them, and that I am only a phone call away.

4. I used to be nervous about counselling those older than me. However, someone once pointed out that, in the Lord, I am older than many. I have many years of teaching and growing behind me. Coming from a Christian home often helps in advising another parent who hasn't had the same background and is, therefore, uncertain how to respond to their children in certain situations. Often, it is a surprise to parents to find out that their Christian teen is as human as they were when they were young.

5. I am worthless as a counselor if I am not in the Bible and on my knees. Wisdom comes from the Lord!

Things I don't like about counselling:

1. It tears my heart out on a regular basis.

2. I have a hard time balancing between a friend's crisis and the needs of my family. I am learning that my children's ministry can be sacrificing mommy at times. However, it can go too far. I've seen people lose their children because they were so busy helping everyone else. Pray for me that I will find a balance.

3. Knowing that people trust me so much is scary. I also like people to like me - so telling them something that is hard for them to hear is difficult for me.

4. For those single-women who may have a listening ear - be careful! I had a few problems while I was single and listening guys spill their guts. Men interpret your listening ear as an interested heart. You need to be cautiously caring! And, once you get married, unless it's a team effort with your husband, only council women!

Why have I gone on about this? Just random thoughts, I suppose. But, it raises the issue of being chosen by God to fulfill a plan He has for each of us.

Sometimes, we question the gifts or ministries God seems to drop into our laps. I have done that in the past. But, I will stop questioning and start praying. Praying that I will allow God to use me in the way that He has chosen. And, I will be grateful that He chose me to be useful.

God has chosen YOU for something. You probably already know what it is. Are you questioning your "worthiness?" God isn't.

Go.

Be used.

Be grateful.

You are chosen!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Memories

A couple of weeks ago, I felt a bit depressed. Memories of days gone by seemed more fun and more dear to me than the here and now. Have you ever felt that way? Be careful, because it can lead you down a road of dis-satisfaction.

I know. I was headed down "Discontentment Trail."

Then, I forced myself to remember some of the special times I had with my dearest Eric. Yes, sometimes it takes a conscious effort to think back to the "good ol' days." Remembering our dating years made me realize that he and I have some pretty precious memories: walking hand in hand around our hometown, holding hands in the car on our way to an event, going for long bike rides early in the morning, etc. Yeah, we were pretty romantic back in the day!

The flame in my heart was not gone, it was smoldering just a bit. That happens now and again with old married people. There are times when a bit of kindling needs to be thrown on the coals. Memories are great kindling! Thinking on those things got me out of my discontentment and made me realize how blessed I truly am! "...whatsoever things are lovely...think on these things."

I then began to bask in the memories of our children's early days. I remembered some of the cute things my older children said and did when they were the ages of my three little ones now. The way Michael looked walking out to the barn by himself when he was 3, the times my children began to walk, read, begin doing school. I remembered some of the outings we've taken together as a family - the smiles and laughter shared. It made me realize that we are constantly making memories. We make memories each and every day.

We need to enjoy the memories while we're making them.

And someday, we'll look back on today and smile.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Cherish the Moment

When we come home from church on Wednesday nights, Zane usually cries while I am busy getting all the other children in bed. Once they're all settled, I am then able to feed him and get him down for the night.

This past Wednesday, Eric laid him on the ground to expend his energies. There, he fell asleep. I chose to watch my precious, growing baby.

Take some time today to cherish a moment in your child's life.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Zane's First Meal

The first taste of food. Always an exciting time. I love the fact that this is momentous occasion for the entire family, not just for mom or the baby! It's times like these that make motherhood so rewarding. OK, well, minus the mess!

video

Hope you enjoyed a little glimpse into our family!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Why I Didn't Make It To Kevin's Commissioning Service

Tonight, my friend Kevin was scheduled to preach at his church and then be commissioned as he leaves for the field of Zambia on Tuesday.

I wanted to go more than anything. But, I didn't.

Why? Oh, let me give you just a few reasons.

1. I was out for six and half straight hours yesterday and, as a home-school mom, it is against some unwritten law to leave your children for two days in a row. If you do, the penalty is a torrent of tears, wails of "Mommy!!!!", and, worse than any punishment, the feeling of guilt the entire time you are away. (We weren't all going to be able to go for various reasons.)

2. It would have meant that Eric would have to make dinner, get the kids ready for bed, etc. alone for the third night this week. He doesn't mind and he was willing to let me go. It's just that guilt-thing again.

3. My four year old got into a tube of orange acrylic paint. Need I say more?

4. I needed to feed my 6 month old.

5. My 2 year old held up a book and with her big smile and even bigger blue eyes, looked at me and said, "Weed it?"

Very pathetic reasons, I know, but all tied up in this last reason: when you're the mom of seven kids (even of just one), your life is not your own.

Am I the only one who sometimes feels resentment about this? Forgive me, but here were some of my thoughts tonight:

"This is the ONLY commissioning service Kevin will have and he leaves in 2 days. I would love to hear him preach and wish him the best. But, no, I can't leave because I'm supposed to stay here with my kids even though I'm here seven days a week. Not that they appreciate the fact that I'm staying home for them! I can't even go to church! I stay...for what? To hear children argue and to have paint explode all over my 4 year old and his surroundings?!"

I didn't say these things out loud. Only the Lord heard my cry. Speaking of crying, yes, some tears were shed. Sometimes, I get so weary of disappointment and having to "sacrifice" the things that I want to do.

These were my fleshly feelings. Praise the Lord, for His mercy endureth forever! The above thoughts did not last long because I knew they were wrong. I have learned enough that it doesn't pay to wallow in self-pity. What good would it do my family if I "sacrificed" my plans and just sulked all evening? Sulking cancels out the sacrifice.

Reading a book to my children, being a part of our family Bible reading time, kissing them good-night is what God wanted me to do tonight. Doing it happily took a bit of grace, and I'm glad God gave it.

I chose to have these children. They need me. My responsibility, my ministry, is to them and to my husband (who still made dinner, by the way!) - especially when it is inconvenient. And, for those of you who haven't yet found out, motherhood is an inconvenience. Truly. You just need to learn to deal with it - look beyond the inconvenience. Some day it will pay.

It did for Kevin's mom.

Maybe, one day, I'll be able to attend my own son's commissioning service - a service where one of his friends won't be able to make it because of children at home...and he'll understand.

I'll understand, too.

Wishing you the best, Kevin, and praying for you! May you continue to be used by the Lord. Keep fighting the good fight, keep winning souls, keep trusting our Saviour. He is a Friend who will ALWAYS be there!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Living Biographies

"Can I see?" "Come here, Gloria, sit on my lap." "Cassia, move over a bit so Seth can see."

We, as a family, are crowded around the computer screen, looking at some pictures of a far-off missionary family. In my children's hearts, a seed is being planted. A seed that I pray will grow into a real burden for missions; whether it be praying, giving, or going.

I have a Facebook account. This is a great way to keep up with friends and family near or far away. But, more importantly, this is a tremendous way to stay in touch with missionaries. Missionaries thrive on the communication this venue allows.

Our church has, by the grace of God, several missionaries on the field or on deputation. Many of these families can be found on Facebook. Our children love to crowd around the computer with me to see the new pictures posted or, even more fun, the videos that some of the missionaries post. Our children are able to see where our friends live, what they are doing, what the conditions are, how they worship, and how their children are growing.

My son has a friend who, with his parents, is visiting his missionary-sister and her family in Mozambique for the next month. Michael loved seeing pictures of his friend's first plane trip, the reunion the family had, the wonderful family-moments caught on camera. The video of the Mozambiquan band at the airport gave my children a feel for the culture. The video of the thunderstorm amazed them, also.

The video of the Zambian Sunday School class on Kevin's blog opened their eyes and ears to the fact that children worship in song around the world. "What are they singing? Why are they doing that? Where is this?" What a way to get a conversation going about missions!

There are countless missionary biographies out there for us to read - and we should. Reading together is one of our favorite family-time traditions. However, never before have children been able to experience missionary-life so vividly. More than just a prayer card, seeing the lives of today's missionaries is slowly impressing the burden of missions on their young hearts.

Worthwhile time spent in front of a computer screen. When they walk away, I want them to remember and water that seed growing in their hearts.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Sing Unto the Lord!

"I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being." - Psalm 104:33

"I will sing unto the Lord, because he hath dealt bountifully with me." - Psalm 13:6

"O sing unto the Lord a new song: sing unto the Lord, all the earth. For the Lord is great, and greatly to be praised: he is to be feared above all gods." - Psalm 96:1&4


Do you have hymn books in your home? Do you use them? It's amazing to me how many times singing to the Lord is mentioned in the Bible. God obviously loves to hear songs of praise; yet, so many of us think that singing is only to be done in the church house.

Our family has several hymnbooks. Eric and I were not raised singing in the home, so it was a bit awkward beginning this tradition several years ago. But, I'm so glad my husband did as now our children look forward to the hymnbooks coming out. No, we're not exactly ready to buy a bus and go on tour. However, I do believe our songs drifting upwards toward heaven are sweet to the ears of our Lord.

A couple of years ago, I realized that our children didn't seem to know some of the most commonly sung hymns. We'd open to a hymn such as "The Old Rugged Cross" and they would flounder. It's difficult enough to read the words in a hymnal, but when they don't even know the tune...well, just grab your ear-plugs!

The remedy: most Monday mornings, when the children and I sat down to do our morning Bible reading, I would pick out three common hymns. We would then sing those three songs all week long. Monday would be pretty pathetic, but, by Wednesday or Thursday, all the children were singing the songs with confidence. After a couple of years of this, it is rare that they don't know a song when it's sung in church.

Now that they know so many hymns, it is the children who most often pick out the songs on Monday morning. Sometimes, one of the children has learned a new hymn in Bible class or in a piano book and are anxious to share it with everyone else. Our pastor also loves to teach new hymns to the congregation, so we often learn it as a family the following week. Our repertoire is constantly increasing.

What about the little ones who cannot even read? Some times, they have heard the song so often, that they can, at least, sing the chorus with us. Desiring to make sure they are included in the worship, we do sing "Sunday School" songs, also. When our three daily songs are finished, we take requests from the three non-readers in the group. "Only a Boy Named David," "Deep and Wide," and "The B-I-B-L-E" are favorites. Some nights, we skip out on the hymnal and just sing as many of the "children's" songs as we can remember. Little ones who learn to enjoy singing, will become young people and adults who enjoy worshiping the Lord in song.

If you've never sung together as a family, begin this week. As it was for us, it may feel awkward. But, just like it has for our family, it is likely to become a cherished tradition that brings you all closer to the Lord.

(By the way, a note to anyone who stays with us for a couple of days - you rarely hear us do this because, like I said, our singing may be sweet to the Lord, but it may be too much for human ears to take!)

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Sword Drills - with a twist!

This is my first of a few promised posts to help incorporate spiritual growth in our family time.

The other night, we had sword drills. For those who may not know, we grew up having sword drills in church and school. This is how it's usually played: everyone puts their Bibles (swords - Hebrews 4:12) in the air and the "drill master" calls out a Scripture reference. When he says "charge" everyone looks for the reference and the first to find it stands and reads it aloud.

Well, I don't know if anyone has ever done it the way I was inspired to do it the other night. We did it the "regular" way, but once the verse was found and read, it was acted upon. For instance, the first passage was Psalm 92:1 - "It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High." After we read that, we went around the room and everyone named something they were thankful to God for. Then, we sang a song of praise to our Lord (oddly enough, "Praise Him, Praise Him, All Ye Little Children").

Some other verses we did, or will do in the future:
Romans 12:15 - "Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep." We each named something that made us happy and the rest of us clapped to show our rejoicing with that person. We opted out of the weeping part, but I did explain that we were to do that whenever our brothers and sisters are sad and hurting.

Hebrews 13:1 - "Let brotherly love continue." Everyone went around the room hugging one another - they loved it!

Psalm 47:1 - "O clap you hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph." Everyone claps their hands for the Lord and shout "Amen" or "Praise Him." Get the kids to get used to praising God out loud!

The Psalms are full of different verses you can act upon - singing, praising God, naming His commands, etc. Spending time in the word and getting the kids to learn their way around it can be fun! Be creative. Think of some you can do with your family and let me know of the verses you think of so we can add them to our list, also!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Put Away the DVD and Take Out the KJV!

This is the first time that any of our children stayed up to welcome in the new year. Our four oldest had a great time playing games, making snacks, singing, and being read to as we awaited mid-night. We lost daddy and Katrina around 11:00 p.m., but the latter woke up during the count-down and was able to sip a bit of sparkling grape juice before going back to her comfy spot on the living room floor! Daddy woke up around 12:02 a.m. when the other children wish him a "happy new year!"

Tonight, before everyone went to bed (a bit earlier than normal), we read Genesis 1-3 and Matthew 1 as we are going to attempt to read the Bible through as a family for the first time. I have realized that our children have gotten so far away from Spiritual things - my fault completely. There was a time when we never watched videos and our children were better for it. So what if people looked at them funny because they had no clue who Mickey Mouse, Buz Lightyear, Big Bird, and Bugs Bunny were? The characters they knew were real heroes who lived long ago! We spent more time reading the Bible, learning the Bible stories, memorizing Scripture, and singing the old hymns. Some of those traditions have held on, but none of them any where near as before. Though they still don't know who most of those characters are (Mickey Mouse they sort of know), "harmless" dvd-watching has replaced much of that meaningful family time.

For the month of January, we will not be watching videos or dvds. (Well, other than the BJU home school dvds, much to my son's chagrin!) It is our goal to draw closer to the Lord this year - as a family. It is our desire to regain the ground that we've lost lately. It is our prayer that our family will build a stronger relationship with God and with each other as we have enjoyable and, yes, fun fellowship around His word and in singing His praises together.

I challenge you all to join us in this endeavor. Most of us love family traditions. I believe most of my readers are very family-oriented. What better way to share family time than around the word of God?

In the next few posts, I will attempt to give some ideas of how to spend time cultivating tradition, relationships, fun, and spiritual growth in our families. In the meantime, I wish for you all a truly happy new year!

"...happy is that people, whose God is the Lord." -Psalm 144:15