Saturday, December 31, 2011

Some Principles of Courtship ~ Part One

I wanted to share some insights given at the conference by Paul Washer.  He spoke about the Principles of Courtship that I found extremely helpful.  He encouraged us to copy his handout and pass it out as we would like.  Since I cannot do that for all of you, I thought I would try to write them in installments, and put the scripture references under each and then you can decide if you would like to keep them for a reference or guide.  I would also encourage each of you that can afford it, to buy the MP3 tapes of the conference.  We still have not listened to all of ours yet, but I am looking forward to doing so the beginning of the new year.  I hope to be sharing some of my goals for the coming year with you soon as well.  May you have a blessed New Year with Christ at the center of all you do!

Biblical Courtship by Paul Washer
Plowing Fertile Ground for Teaching:  Before we even begin to discuss courtship, we must be aware of our present reality as people, convinced that the entirety of our lives are to abound to the glory of God, and determined to live biblically:
 I.  We must be aware of our present reality as people.
      Judges 17:6, Hosea 4:6, Isaiah 1:4-6

II. We must be convinced that the entirety of our lives must abound to the glory of God and be submitted to God's revealed will.
       I Corinthians 10:31, II Corinthians 10:5, II Timothy 3: 16-17

The Context of Teaching:  In the same way that knowing the will of God in a specific moment springs forth from a life style of renewing the mind in the Word of God (Romans 12:2), courtship springs forth from a life-long biblical relationship between parent and child.

I.  Parents must strive to know the Scriptures.
    Proverbs 29:18, Hosea 4:6
II. Parents must strive to live as biblical examples.
      I Corinthians 4:15-17, I Corinthians 11:1, I Thessalonians 2:14, Matthew 23:2-3

III.  Parents must strive to love, teach, and govern biblically.  The godliness and Christ-likeness of the family is the most important goal of the godly man!
      Genesis 18:19, Deuteronomy 6:5-9, Joshua 4: 5-7, Ephesians 6:4, I Timothy 3:4

IV.  Children must be convinced of their parents' role.  
        A.  The parents' role is ordained by God and is the "first law" governing man's relationship to man.  Exodus 20:12

B.  A deeper look from Ephesians 6:1-3.
     1.  Children, obey your parents - to obey, listen, harken to;  of one who, on hearing a knock at the door, comes to listen who it is; the duty of a porter.
     2.  In the Lord - in the context of the Lord's authority
    3.  For this is right - righteous; observing divine law.
     4.  Honor your father and mother - to esteem them as valuable.
    5.  Which is the first commandment with a promise, so that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth - a reference to a blessed life without fear of divine judgment.
C.  Moving beyond obedience to honor:  Leviticus 19:32
D.  Divine Penalties:  Jude 1:6, Deuteronomy 21:18-21

(There is quite a bit more, but for time and not to have the post too terribly long, I will share more later.  I hope some of you who are pursuing this route will find this helpful.  God bless!)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Gospel-Centered Marriages ~ Part Two ~ FINALLY!

It has been forever since I have blogged.  Our children decided they would pass around viruses of all kinds for two months straight!  It was a little hard to find blogging time during that run of sickness.  But, I did want to share some more highlights from the conference.  One of the things I greatly appreciated was the fact that most of the speakers stressed just the day to day being in the Word of God.  There are suggestions and ideas to help families navigate through the courtship process, but the best preparation for courtship is to ground your son or daughter in the Bible.  Make sure they are hiding God's Word in their hearts.  If not, all the courtship do's and don'ts mean nothing because the foundation has not been properly laid.

It is only by being in God's Word that a husband and a wife know the correct order in a home…how a husband is to lead and a wife be the submissive helpmeet.  This, in itself, is a wonderful preparation for our children to enter into courtship and marriage.  And if you are like most families we met there, you will be the first generation in your family to navigate children through this thing called courtship. So, many of these waters are untested for us.  Another idea that was continually stressed was that courtship looks different for every family.  Yes, there are some main principles, but how you flesh those out among your own children will look different from the next persons.  In fact, it will most likely look different in your own family from one child to the next.

One of the main things I came away with was to make sure that my husband and I are continually praying about and with our children for their future spouses.  We have made it a practice since our first child was born to pray this way.  And now that my oldest daughter is fifteen, she too is praying almost daily for her future husband.  If a family bathes this most crucial time in prayer, I believe God will faithfully help you navigate through courtship with His leading.  

Next time, I hope to share some of the principles of courtship that were shared at the conference.  But, for those of you that are looking to go through this courtship process with your children, saturate yourselves and your children in the Word and prayer.  Then, trust God for the results.  He is faithful to provide all our needs.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Gospel-Centered Marriages Conference ~ Part 1

Well, we arrived home safe and sound from the conference.  However, my youngest daughter ended up getting sick the last day of the conference.  I think getting off our regular diet and lack of sleep was a little too much for her.  As is usual, it has gone around all the children.  I think in a day or two we will  be back to normal again.  For those of you that commented on my son's rash, it ended up being a viral infection.  I have seen rashes at the end of viral infections before, but nothing of this magnitude.  I am always amazed at things the body can catch and the different ways each of my children react to the same virus.

How can one family need so much for just a few days?  

One of the idiosyncrasies of our family…we have to have a fan for background noise to sleep.  So, we make sure we always take one with us.

I usually have my list of things that need to be packed.  I never thought I would arrive at this moment.  I remember having to pack for all five children and myself.  Now, I can sit and read off the list of things needed.  They run and get them, run it by me and pack it in the suitcase!!  It's GREAT!

Some of us wanted to get on the road a little faster than we could pack.

While on the road we saw some interesting sights….don't you just love vintage cars?  

Finally, after multiple stops for bathroom breaks and car sickness, we finally saw the mountains before us.  It was truly a beautiful sight.  It is one of my dreams to live in the mountains again someday, Lord willing.

The trees were not at their peak when we were there, but there were still some gorgeous colors.  It was so lovely to see this sight when we left our rooms every morning.

Undulating hills and fall trees dotted our landscapes.

Finally, we reached our destination.  Ridgecrest is a lovely setting and it was such a wonderful time in the Lord.  We met new friends, fellowshipped with many people and sat under godly teaching.  I hope to be sharing some of the insights we learned about there.  Until next time!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Yes, I'm Still Here!

It has been so long since my last post, I am sure many of you have wondered if I gave up blogging forever.  Well, no, at least not yet.  But, there have been many things happening around our house that have kept me from blogging.  So, this post will be a catch-up of a few highlights of what has kept me away.  The pictures today are those around and in our home.  My oldest daughter Joy gets credit for the picture taking.  She is becoming quite the budding photographer!

There was a virus going around our church for a while.  My husband caught is first, then my son, my middle daughter, and then myself.  It was pretty nasty stuff.  It started mainly with a bad cough and that cough lingered for about four weeks.  I am still coughing some even after all this time.  But, praise the Lord, the worst of it is over.  We have also been working on a new schedule in our home and we are trying to work out the kinks and figure out the best use of our time.  We have been convicted about making every moment count for the Lord and the best way we feel to do that is to have a workable schedule in the home.  

I will try and share some of the things that work for us later after we get it running a little more smoothly.  The great thing about the schedule is that even though things are not tweaked to our liking yet, we have been able to accomplish so much more with it in place.  It has really been an effective tool.

We are also involved in many more classes for some of the children here, which has taken some time away.  Joy is taking photography, sewing and piano this year.  Joanna is taking piano and sewing and Josiah piano lessons.  We are very excited about these opportunities, but they take time to do and therefore, we are having to be much more selective about the use of our time during the day.

Also during this time my eldest son got a fever, stomach upset and some congestion.  It was quickly over, so we thought, but about five days later he started breaking out in a rash.  We thought it was chicken pox, but it has been going on for over 14 days and there have been new areas as recently as two days ago.  We took him to the doctor, she thought is might be measles, but it doesn't fit the measles rash or symptoms at all.  We are perplexed and have kept the children away from church in case he is contagious.  But, none of my other children have gotten anything similar so it doesn't seem to be contagious.  

This is what his face looked like, although fortunately, his face has completely healed.  It is mainly on his legs and arms. His legs are by far the worst looking. If any of you ladies have any suggestions for me, please let me know.  We have gotten him some anti-itch medicine that seems to be helping some.  I do think it is on it's way to healing, but it is a mysterious thing since we have never experienced anything like this before. 

Lord willing, we will be leaving next week to head to Ridgecrest for the Gospel-Centered Marriages retreat.  We are so excited about what the Lord will teach us  there.  I hope to share some insights when we come home.  Much of it will be centered on preparing our children for marriage through the courtship/betrothal model.  I am thankful for the opportunity to go and learn under those that have gone before us in this area.  We are definitely newbies to all this!  I will hopefully be back with some things to share after the conference.  Until next time!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Watch This Powerful Film!

This is a wonderful film produced by Ray Comfort.  I do, however, caution you about showing it to your children as there are graphic images in the film.  Please watch it first, and then decide the age appropriateness for your family.  I pray God uses this film mightily for His kingdom!  Go here to watch.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Training Children in Godliness ~ Doing Their Best

One of the things we are working on as a family is to strive to do our best in everything we do.  I grew up with this principle in my home.  I often heard, "A job worth doing is a job worth doing well."  This is certainly true.  But, it wasn't until later in life when I realized that doing my best went farther than doing a job well.  It told a lot about my character and my relationship with Christ.  We can look around us everywhere and see that our God is a God who does all things well…and never haphazardly. This is the standard for our lives.  We cannot do all things perfectly like Christ, but we can do our best and strive to be creative in our pursuits to the best of our abilities.

 So, why do we tell our children to do their best?  First of all, because our Lord commands it.  "And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord."  (Col. 3:23)  God is creative, industrious, and perfectly artistic in His nature.  We should be all of that to the best of our ability and seek to encourage our children in the same way.  I know you have come across people who do things just to get by.  They have no joy or creativity in the work they do.  They find it dull and boring.  We, as parents, can also fall into this category.  The day to day tasks of life can seem mundane.  But the God who causes the same sun to rise on us everyday never looks at life this way, and neither should we.  All that we do should be an act of obedience and love toward Him, whether that be going through the phonics book again, making dinner every night or folding the laundry for the thousandth time!  So, what are some practical ways to encourage our children to do their best in all things?

1.  First, we need to set the example for them.  If we are constantly complaining about cooking dinner again, or looking like we would rather be anywhere else than working on this math problem, they will follow our lead.  Show your children that whatever the task God has called you to, you can find joy in it.  And whatever you do, go the extra mile. We teach so much to our children just in our day to day actions with them.  

2.  When you give your child a job, expect their best.  If they do not give it to you, require them to redo it until it is the their best.  Sometimes this is so hard.  It is much easier to do a job yourself than to stay on someone and make sure they are meeting the standards.  But, to fail in this area just teaches our children that they can give half-heartedly and there are no consequences.  This is not true discipleship.  We must get in our mind that training our children in righteousness is our first priority and everything else is secondary. 

3.  Give your children a chance to show their creativity.  If you ask your girls to set the table, let them "decorate" it.  Ask them to find flowers from outside, to make name markers for each place, to fold the napkins a special way.  All these things allow your child to see the beauty in the everyday.  Sitting down to dinner each night then becomes an exercise in creativity.  My oldest daughter loves to put the food on the table in beautiful bowls.  Would it be easier to have everyone line up in the kitchen and serve it from the pots?  Yes, and many times we have!  But, when she sets the table so lovely, it shows her desire to go the extra mile and it does make the evening meal a much more beautiful event.

4.  Always remind your children why this is required.  It is because God always gives His best to us and He requires His children to give their best to others.  It causes our children to be servant minded, to think of others more highly than themselves.  

So, this coming week…teach your children to give God their best in everything they do and see how the Lord blesses the creativity He has given your family!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Tough Choices

Sometimes in life, we all have to make tough choices.

Which path should I take?  

Some choices are not so easy for a girlie girl to make.

You know the ones I am talking about…they ooze sweetness, cute smiles that melt your heart and love everything pink and flowery.

Sometimes the best of the girlie girls has a conundrum to face.

What's a girl to do?  
Yes, sometimes the girlie girl must face the facts, and that's when she chooses the road less traveled and the girlie girl takes the truck.  

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Are You Planting Groves?

We were reading this morning in Deuteronomy for our devotional time.  One particular verse penetrated my heart.  It was Deut. 16:21, "Thou shalt not plant thee a grove of any trees near unto the altar of the Lord thy God, which thou shalt make thee."  Idol worship was prevalent in the days of the patriarchal fathers.  God speaks a lot to His people about keeping themselves pure from this type of sin.  He reminds them over and over again how easy it is to get snared into idol worship. And in this verse, God goes so far as to say that He does not even want them to plant groves near the altar of the Lord!  Can't you just hear sceptics today saying how legalistic this sounds?  For many Christians today, the whole idea of idol worship seems foreign.  Most Christians I know don't get tempted to worship statues of man's making.  But, lest we forget, idol worship is not just worshipping something we call a god, but replacing the Creator God from His rightful position.  There is much surrounding us on a daily basis that could easily become an idol.  Idol worship is about putting anything before Christ in your life.  And that my friend, can be almost anything.  People, hobbies, money, position, and the list could go on and on.  What groves are you planting near the altar of God in your life?  Is it your family?  Is it homeschooling or healthy eating or your favorite hobby?  What about technology…facebook, twitter, and yes, even blogging?  Are these things bad?  No, but when our time with God takes a backseat to these things, then they become our idols.  So ask yourself today as I am asking myself; what groves have I planted near the altar of God?  I think it might be a good time to lay the ax to the trees.  May the Lord give us wisdom to see when we are about to plant groves of our own making.  

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Happy Birthday Joy!

My how time flies.  It seems like it was just yesterday when I was wishing you a Happy Birthday for the big 14!  Now, you are 15 and growing more and more into a young woman.  What a blessing you have been to our lives.  I remember when it was time to think about naming you.  I wanted your name to come from the Bible…and Joy kept coming back over and over again.  The Bible is full of the word joy.  It is to characterize the whole Christian life.  And it has been a fitting name for you as you have brought such joy to our family.
You have changed so much in just a year.  The traces of the little girl are all but gone.  More and more you are giving up those childish wishes and replacing them with the desire to be a more godly woman.  It is a bittersweet time.  
I am so thankful for the help you are to me.  In times of health issues and deployments, you have been such a great source of encouragement and service.  You have pushed through and done things that needed to be done even when it was hard.  
You have always been giving.  Even when you were little, you would gladly give up your dessert to your father and me if we had wanted it.  Even now, you do the same for any member of your family.  And you are always quick to think of our sponsored children, donating money given to you to help them out.  I pray God continues to grow this spirit of giving in you.  You can never outgive God.
So today Joy…let me say Happy Birthday to my firstborn daughter.  Thank you for being so loving and loyal.  I hope the Lord allows me many years to share in your triumphs and your struggles.  I am so blessed to call you my daughter and cherishing more and more everyday that I also call you my friend.  May the Lord continue the good work He has begun in you.  I love you!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Review of The Grace Card

Our family was able to watch The Grace Card this week.  It has just been released on DVD for those of you that may not know.  It is always a pleasure to see a movie that contains Judeo-Christian values as opposed to what Hollywood typically mass produces.  

The Grace Card follows the lives of two police officers.  One of those police officers has experienced great tragedy in his life that has left him bitter and very anti-God.  The other police officer is a bivocational preacher and is finding that true ministry is not just what is preached behind a pulpit on Sunday morning.  Both men learn much from their relationship with each other and the movie emphasizes the importance of loving and showing grace to others even in the most difficult of circumstances.  

My biggest problem with The Grace Card is that there wasn't a clear presentation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Christ was mentioned by name, but not the clear message of redemption in Him.  This is one area I have appreciated so much from movies like Facing the Giants and Fireproof.  They clearly show the way of salvation in those movies.  It reminds me of another movie I have watched before called "Time Changer."  If you have not seen this, I highly recommend it.  The whole premise is what happens to a society that gives a moral message without showing that the only way to righteousness is through the Gospel and the Gospel alone.  

I would still recommend The Grace Card.  It is a far cry from the other side of the coin we are bombarded with on a daily basis from Hollywood.  But, I would have Christians be especially careful in making sure their message of hope and righteousness is only by means of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  Everything else is just good works and still means nothing in the scheme of eternity.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Diaper Cake Art

Saturday my daughters and I were able to attend a baby shower for a lovely young lady in our church.  I do not have the time anymore to play with my paper and stickers as I once did, but do so enjoy the occasion when I can fit it in.  Baby showers are a wonderful outlet for me to use for this activity.  This was the latest diaper cake I made.  
This is the top of the diaper cake.  I like putting the ribbon and the flowers together.  It adds a nice touch.
Pretty scrapbooking  paper and stickers add detail.

And of course a sweet young girl to complete the picture!  

Friday, August 19, 2011

Preparing for a New School Year

Well, it is that time of year again at our house!  Preparing for a new school year is such an exciting time.  I love the feeling of a new beginning.  Even though we school year round, there is still a definite end of one year and beginning of another.  I like to evaluate what it is that I may want to stop doing, or what I may want to begin for the first time.  It can be quite a daunting task, but I am learning to not think so much of what works for others or what new curriculum is out there, but instead, what does God want OUR family to accomplish.  God has been showing me more and more that what looks like the perfect homeschool schedule or curriculum for others, may be totally opposite of what He has planned for our family.  Our God is such a creative God.  No two people are exactly alike…and because of that, no two families, with all the personalities that make up the household, will be the same.  We can glean from others wisdom.  I have done so very often.  But, we must be careful not to duplicate someone's ideas just because it has worked for them.  We know our family best…their likes, dislikes, things they need help with, things they excel in, etc.  So how do we find out the "best" way to do things for our family?  We must bathe it all in prayer. God knows exactly what He wants us to key on and what "curriculum" will best accomplish this.  If I had my homeschooling years to do all over again, I would have prayed a lot more and looked at catalogs a lot less.  It is so easy to get caught up in the "newest" thing out there for curriculum.  But what does God want my family to be doing?  Does this or that curriculum fit the goals we desire our children to have?  

So, I encourage you, bathe your homeschool year and choices in prayer.  Our God is not disinterested in this area, or any other area of our lives for that matter.  Far too often, we are prone to set out on our own and make these choices without ever consulting Him.  So, as you begin a new school year, pray, pray and pray some more!  May the Lord bless your homeschool choices this year!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Preserving Memories

Some of you ladies are so much better than I am about preserving memories.  I began scrapbooking years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it.  But, several little ones later, homeschooling and health problems have kept me from staying on top of all those wonderful photos. 

But I still wanted a way to preserve the years of my children's lives in pictures.  So, one thing I have faithfully tried to accomplish is to have pictures of the children done about every six months.  It has been such a blessing to look at how they have changed over the years.  And it will be a treasure for them to enjoy and Lord willing to share with their families for years to come.
I would encourage all of you to find your own way of preserving the changing years of your children's lives.  My children enjoy so much looking back over the years and remembering the moments that surround each photo.  They are milestones in our families history and we share these milestones together.  The memories are precious and priceless.
Does one need to have pictures to share memories?  Certainly not.  And there are those who have tragically lost these pictorial memories through fire or by other means.  But, for those that can, it is a beautiful way to preserve something lasting...memories that will stand the test of time.  Get out those pictures and look at them together and see what smiles, laughter and tears they bring as you remember once again the blessings the Lord has given you and how He has never failed to walk with you every step of the way!