Thursday, April 20, 2017

Monday, April 17, 2017

Yes, there is a such thing as selfish prayers.

What do your prayers sound like? Are they littered with requests for yourself and those you love? Or, are your prayers focused on the One that you're praying to?

There is a time to make requests of God. We have clear examples of making requests in prayers from scripture. But, as you pray, your heart should be drawn closer to God and praising Him. There is a reason the ACTS acrostic is so helpful in praying. It gets your heart and mind thinking about God, Who He is and what He has done for us.
  • A-Adoration
  • C-Confession
  • T-Thanksgiving
  • S-Supplication
When you spend time praising God, confessing sin and thanking Him for blessings beyond measure, your supplications change. For example, being truly thankful for the car that you have may change your request for a new one.

Another way to make sure your prayers are God centered instead of self-centered is to pray Scripture. Psalms is the easiest way to start praying God's Word back to Him. Read Praying the Bible by Don Whitney. I've said it before and it's still true. It will transform your prayer life.




Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Mary and Lydia





















These two beauties are growing so quickly. They have proven over and over that God is gracious to my failings. It would be easy for them to check out of life and be like the rest of the world.  My heart is often divided and parenting children such vast ages, the middle girls too often get slighted. Mary and Lydia have taken over nearly all of the household chores, all of their school, music and jobs. I rarely hear a complaint.




If you were ever at our house during the morning basket time, you may or may not see something like this.  The "spanish game" gets out of  hand sometimes and one or the other needs to use drastic measures to win. Clearly, they aren't having much fun at school. (Just kidding, but they aren't going to like these pictures being posted.)

Sunday, April 09, 2017

I Am Not a Minimalist






















I have a confession... 
I like my stuff... there it is... now you know.  

I have things in my house just because I like them. They serve no purpose, they may or may not be beautiful, but I like them.

There would be a story for almost everything. There are stacks of books, some stacks on top of stacks, numerous toys, pretty dishes, handmade treasures, pictures upon pictures, etc.

We are hearing a lot lately about minimalism, that clutter causes stress, stuff like that. That may be true. I have a  harder time sitting still if my clutter is out of order.  Extra stuff creates more work - it has to be dusted and such.  I understand the idea behind minimalism. 

Using less sometimes means more. But what if you like more? Sitting in a sparsely decorated room may make some people uncomfortable. Maybe some people like to look around at lots of interesting things. It's not bad, just different. The Summer is coming and I plan to do some painting and extra cleaning out, but I don't think I'll be getting rid of too much.

I threw away one late trash bag of old homeschool files and took four large bags of stuff to our local women's shelter. (I'd rather not donate to Goodwill, but I will if necessary.)

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

As a Pastor's Wife

I love my job! I am my husband's wife. That's all, nothing more, nothing less. But being the wife of a pastor has unique challenges, as does being the wife of a plumber, doctor, mechanic, etc. I'm sure. But how often do you get introduced like this, "This is my mechanics wife?"

As a pastor's wife in the 1700's, before her husband was given an increase in salary, Sarah Edwards had to record every expenditure to make sure that she wasn't being frivolous with the family's finances.  That's Jonathan Edwards' home! Such scrutiny in a pastor's home is often painfully unfair. 

There have been times I have felt that scrutiny, whether it was justified or not. I have often taken things out of context and felt the pressure to perform as others would have me, even when it wasn't what I or my husband wanted. My children have often felt the uncomfortable realities of living in a glass house.

But it's still a job I love. The blessings outweigh the problems. I have first hand knowledge of people and can pray for them when no one else can. I may have to be on the phone for hours at a time, but I have God's Word to help me counsel. 

There are times like this wedding that I relish. Ray officiated the wedding of a young couple in our church family. We got to walk with them, like others in the past, through counseling and wedding preparations. God is glorified through them and I am greatly encouraged. 

A visitor to our church remarked about how involved I was in the lives of the couple. I keep thinking how sad I am for her own pastor and his wife, whom she shared has little to do with the church.  I understand that too. Sometimes, it's easier to separate yourself from people to avoid being hurt, used or even abused in some way.

But for me, today I thank God for this family of believers that He has placed me in. I wouldn't want to be anywhere other than Grace Community Church.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Pennsylvania

We spent our Winter break with the Jarrard family in Pennsylvania. We are so grateful for their friendship and hospitality. This is definitely the best way to learn history!
Not much history here but we had a blast snow tubing!
The James River
Abi confused George Washington with George Bush, oops!
Independence Hall - Hannah wondered how anyone could not be moved to tears by visiting such palace.
Midtown Scholar in Harrisburg is the coolest bookstore we've been in.  Mary got lost in a beautiful copy of  Les Miserables.
She wanted to carry her pencil and paper and draw everything she saw. The Liberty Bell is truly beautiful in person.
"Rocky steps" lead to the Art Museum. Now that was amazing!  We saw one of the original Van Gogh Sunflowers and countless works of Monet.
On the way we stopped at a "random" church for worship. We were reminded of God's sovereignty and it was a great service.
The Amish Farms are humbling. But this peacock was "Just Plain Fancy."  Did you notice the reference to one our favorite children's books?

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Long-Term Parenting

"Am I living with eternity stamped on my eyes or am I living for this very moment?"

This quote is written in my prayer journal to remind me to live for eternity. I hear the mantra to live in the moment, stop and enjoy the moment, etc. That's good advice, but it's easy to look at each moment and believe that's all there is.

Parenting and homeschooling is all about eternity. It must be!

We are planning for next year and my heart was thankful to God for the men who lead the families of our group as they prayed over us. The prayers were definitely for strength and wisdom now, but also focused on the long term vision of raising children who love the One True God and will be launched out to serve Him alone.

 Raising children to become adults is hard! It's a long term job and must me seen with eternity in view.  So as I grapple with day in and day out decisions, I need to remember the long term.

These pictures of Ray and Abigail are from a wedding this past weekend. She loves her daddy!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Grandparenting

One small part of parenting adult children is helping them. We want to help Rachel and Adrian build their marriage. That means encouraging short trips away from their babies. We get to benefit from that by babysitting. See, parenting adult children can be fun:)

Spending three days with my grandchildren was exhausting! But it was also priceless! There are a few things that you forget when you have a house full of preschoolers. Here are just a few -

  • to go to the bathroom.
  • to sit down, anywhere.
  • how to clean up, toys are everywhere.
  • they give compliments differently. My favorites this time were - "I'm going to marry you," and "Here, you can have one of my guns." The sloppy kisses and uninhibited hugs are pretty amazing too.
  • boys and girls play differently from each other. I know this in theory, but nothing prepares you for it until it's experienced. 


Playing balls was so fun! Life lessons were learned after all the balls were left outside over night and our dog ate them (not every piece of them, but a piece out of all of them.)


This is the first time that Susannah and Abigail finally learned to fall asleep together. I see many nights of sleepovers and giggles happening.


This picture explains it all - boys play differently than girls. I didn't tell Josiah to find a gun, he just did. 


The sofas became launching pads, the pillows landing pads, the rest of the house became every imaginable place in the universe.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Valentines

I love our Valentines traditions. We eat the traditional steak and potatoes meal by candlelight with everyone. (This is the only time every year that I will buy steak.) Ray gives everyone a heart box of chocolate. He wants the girls to be treated with love all the time and it's good for them to have a tangible picture of it on a special occasion. How he treats them now is giving them a standard to expect from their future husbands.

We often draw names to give gifts to our Valentine. It's fun to see the thoughtfulness put into each gift. Rachel actually touched our dog to make a painting for Mary. (If you know Rachel, she doesn't like dogs, at all.)
This was by far the easiest "special dessert" we've ever had. I bought a Sara Lee pound cake and sliced it. Abigail used cookie cutters to make hearts and the word Love to place on a plate around fruit. Then we dipped it in melted chocolate.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Quiet Time

...Bible time, devotions, .... whatever you call it, as long as it's your time before God, it's important. It's the most vital part of your day.

A young lady asked my advice recently about my quiet time. She wanted to know how was I able to stay committed to my quiet time. It's hard some days to wake up and get started. If I didn't read my Bible every morning, I could sleep at least forty-five minutes longer.

The most important thing I learned from years of struggling over staying faithful to it was that it had to be non-negotiable. There isn't a day that goes by that I wonder if I will read my Bible or when. I was so encouraged when that same young lady came to me two weeks later and said, "I haven't missed one day!"

When I drag myself out of bed, I get a cup of coffee and sit down with my Bible. In order to leave my house on any morning it takes me a little less than two hours from waking to walking out. It's just a vital part of my morning routine.

Ray points out that for your quiet time to be successful you must have a time, place, plan and purpose.

Time - What time of the day are you going to commit? Morning seems best, but it doesn't always work for everyone. I can't imagine waiting until near bedtime to read my Bible, I'd be asleep in seconds. Read Psalm 5:3, 59:16, 88:13, 90:14, 143:8.

Place - There is something sweet about walking by a spot and knowing that's where I meet God. Over the years, depending on the season of life, my "spot" has changed. Right now this is usually my view every morning as I'm finishing up my quiet time.

Plan - Every year the plan varies. Some years, I'm reading through the Bible chronologically, sometimes reading portions of the Old Testament and portions of the New Testament, sometimes focusing on one book or portion of Scripture. The key is that it's heavy on Scripture. I plan time for praying through scripture and intercession.

Purpose - This is the most important part of the quiet time! There will be days when it seems like you're just going through the motions, but if that's all you're doing, then it will be impossible to maintain. The purpose of your quiet times must be to draw near to God, to know Him, to worship Him, to repent of sin. Read Psalm 29:2, 46:10, 96:9; Matthew 4:17.