Monday, January 31, 2011

Getting Rid of Sin in the Camp

     The children and I recently finished reading the book of Joshua during our morning devotional time.  Most of us know and have heard many times the story of how the Israelites defeated the city of Jericho by the miraculous hand of God.  But right after that great victory, the Israelites were embroiled in another battle...the battle at Ai.  Before taking on Jericho, Joshua instructed the children of Israel in Joshua 6:18-19, just as the Lord had commanded him.  They were not to take any articles of gold or silver for themselves.  But, little did the Israelites know at the time that Achan had taken of the "accursed thing."  Riding high on the wave of their great Jericho victory, the Israelites decide to take on a much smaller city...Ai.  They even decide their numbers are too great for such an insignificant battle and what ends up happening?  They are routed and some of their men killed in the process.

     Joshua then seeks the Lord to find out why Israel has been defeated.  And what is it the YHWH tells him? In Joshua 7:13 we read, "There is an accused thing in the midst of thee, O Israel:  thou canst not stand before thine enemies, until ye take away the accursed thing from among you."

     Oh, how that struck me.  Something seemingly so small...relatively speaking.  Something hidden among Achan's things.  Something secret to the rest of the members of the camp, but not from the eye of the Almighty. There are no small sins in His eyes.  I began to ponder...what sin am I keeping among my things...and what affect does this have on my own family?  God sees all.  He knows our hearts.  He knows the private secret sins that we keep from others.  He sees the root of bitterness, the unsubmissive spirits, the jealousy, the envy.  Something so small compared to a nation of God's people...and it brought defeat to a whole nation.  One one family...with a secret sin.  How often do we feel that our sins are insignificant?  How many times have you heard...well, this only affects me...I'm not hurting anyone but myself.  I don't believe that.  All sin affects others in some way.  Maybe not to this magnitude...but wrong motives hurt others...bitterness destroys families...angry words wound those we love most.  Oh, that we would remove the sin in our own camps!  Ask God to show you today what secret sins you may be hiding...remove it.  Get rid of the accursed thing...and watch and see what victory God may bring to you and the life of your family! 

Friday, January 28, 2011

How Does a Bibliophile Decorate?

As a family who is constantly collecting becomes a difficult decision sometimes as to where I put all these treasures.  We have six double bookcases in our den alone that are full of books.  My husband, being first a pastor and now a Chaplain, has collected great theological works ever since we were married.  Then came homeschooling, which literally exploded our book collection...and there are other books too... for crafting, cooking, spiritual edification, etc.  What to do with all those books!?  So, I try as much as possible to find attractive ways to arrange our collections.  I like to group books in sets together, so I do not lose sight of them, and then I begin arranging them in different ways, placing various articles on or around them to make them a decorative grouping.
In this grouping, an old chair holds gardening books.  The bench is home to a very old collection on top that works with the primitive touch there and underneath are my Gooseberry crafting books all lined up to give some color.
Here is a shot a little distance away from some of our bookshelves.  I have tried to use my book and basket collections to make groupings and use the space as wisely as possible.
Pictures nearby always add a homey touch.
Some paperback books are just not attractive on shelves.  I like to put those in baskets (which also saves room) and then use these small chalkboard ties to easily let me know what is in them.  I tried using chalk with these and little ones kept wiping them off.  Then I found out about these. However, they can be expensive, but Michael's and A.C. Moore carry if you have those stores, wait for the 50% off coupon! 

Do you have lots of books at your house?  I would love to know how you manage the ever growing collection!!!  Hope you are all having a glorious week in the Lord!

Monday, January 24, 2011

A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words!

Don't forget to hug your children today...and tell each of them how much you love them!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Home Happenings

Things have been busy here at our home.  We have enjoyed the recent four day weekend off with Daddy and the days he was able to stay home because of snow.  Would love to get a few more of those days!  Homeschooling is back in full swing and it feels good to be back in more of a routine again.  We finally got rid of the respiratory infection that hung around our house the whole month of December.  So glad to have well children again. 

It seems we are in a waiting mode right now.  We are anticipating my husband getting orders to move sometime within the next month.  We are excited about the prospect.  We will miss things about being here, but are looking forward to finding out where God might move us next.  I will let you know when I find out.  The move would probably take place this summer.  I cannot believe we have been in the military for 8 years now and we have never had a winter move.  I prefer moving in is a natural break from school and we get to start a new school year in a new location.  For those of you who are it just me, or do you find yourself anticipating the move too much before it arrives?  Sometimes I find it hard to live in the "here" when I know we are going somewhere "there."  I suppose anyone who has ever moved may have experienced this feeling...military people just seem to experience it more often.  I have to force myself when my husband gets his orders to keep my mind where I not start distancing myself from where I live.  I think I do that sometimes to cut down on the pain associated with a move.  But, it is hard to start packing, planning, decluttering and such and then still be fully engaged where one is.  But, I know none of us are promised it is important to be fully here for as long as God has put me here.  It can be exciting and exhausting thinking about all the changes that come about from a church, new doctors, new neighbors, new piano teachers, new dentists...and then sometimes when you think you have just settled in...the Army comes along and moves you again.  Sometimes I think this can be good for me.  I never get "too settled" anywhere.  It is a constant reminder that we are only pilgrims here.  This is not our real home.  We are only just passing through.  And as long as I we keep our hearts and minds fixed on the "there" of Heaven...the "here" will always be in the right perspective.  God bless!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Reflections on a Man Named Gideon

    In the mornings, I do a family devotional with my children. At the moment, we are reading through the book of Judges. It isn't that I have never read this portion of Scripture before, but rather, I suppose I had never quite seen it in quite this way. In Judges 6:12 it says, "And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him, and said unto him, the LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour."
      "Thou mighty man of valour!" Gideon? Wasn't this the same man that destroyed the altar of Baal and the grove beside it at night because he was afraid of who might see him during the day? Wasn't this the same man who tested the Lord twice with the fleece and the dew to see if he was actually hearing correctly? Wasn't this the same man who needed to go into the camp of the Midianites to overhear a dream given by the Lord to have the confidence to fight the battle?
     "Thou mighty man of valour."  And then it occurred to me that God doesn't just see us as we are now, but what we will become through Him.  I understand Gideon well.  I have hidden in my own darkness of night cutting down the groves of sinfulness because I was afraid to do it in the light.  What might others think of me?  I have tested the Lord on issues, not accepting what I know to be His leading for fear...what if I'm wrong?  What would that mean to me?  What would the repercussions be?  Yes, I know Gideon.  He is a man much like myself, fearful and at times weak.  And yet, the angel of the Lord says, "Thou mighty man of valour."  And the Creator God calls him a man of valour.  Isn't that just like our Elohim?  He reaches down into the weakest, most sinful, and fear-stricken parts of society and creates men and women of valour for Him.  It is only this kind of God that takes the lowest of women in Jericho...the prostitute Rahab and grafts her into the chosen people of Israel and gives her the supreme honor of having Messiah come through her bloodline.  And it is the same Creator God that picks up the shattered pieces of sin that has littered my life and says I will make something of that girl...and it will be by the sacrifice of my Son that will accomplish it. 
     I once heard a preacher, E.V. Hill, speaking at Dr. David Jeremiah's church.  He made the comment that he was just a crooked stick, but God was still able to hit a straight line with him.  Doesn't that describe Gideon, Rahab, me?  There will be those that knew me before Christ did His transforming work and they will always see me crouching in the darkness behind trees in the grove.  And yet, Christ chose to pick me up, despite all the shards of sin and broken pieces scattered around me.  He took this crooked stick and He's in the process of hitting a straight line with her. 
    So, the next time you see that younger brother and sister in the Lord that just doesn't seem to understand all the monumental things of scripture...or the broken man or woman facing seemingly insurmountable odds...or that child of yours that you have to tell the same thing to again and again for the umpteenth time...remember my may just be looking at a Gideon in the making!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Understanding Our Children's Struggles ~ Part Two


I told you that the Lord had used the writing of my daughter and a quote from a book I am reading to bring home once again the need to see through my children's eyes the very heart of their not trivialize them and brush them off because they may not seem as "important" as the cares of the adult world.  If you have not already, you can read part one of this post here.  The following is the writing of my oldest daughter.  This was not an assignment, just an impromptu writing from her heart.  As parents, we should never underestimate the working of the Holy Spirit in the lives of our children. 

   "I sat at the table, my dinner in front of me, my family talking around me but I wasn't listening.  I was in a world of my own thinking about the Narnia books.  Not in an ordinary, "those would be nice to read again" way, but with a desire...a longing for something...a daydream of reading the books with an innocent childish mind.  To make Narnia come alive in my make it real in my play.  I wish to remember every detail and to keep it and incorporate it into my daily life, to devour it and to become again like a rather immature child again.
     For a few delicious moments I was lost with the magnitude of that thought.  That feeling that engulfed me.  But, like a light that filters through into a dark chamber bringing momentary pain to the eyes, so the Holy Spirit's light brought pain into my soul, telling me to remove these thoughts from my mind.  I brought selfish pain into my heart.  No, not my pleasant daydream, my mind cried out!  All of this transpired within a few seconds and then and only then did I realize what I was doing.  I was putting Narnia up as a stronghold against the discomforts of life.  I needed to face my spiritual battles instead of running.  I needed to confess, obey and accept forgiveness.  Whatever I might do, I knew with assurity that no matter how hard it would be to tear myself away from sin, it was a must.  It was a command.  So, I began to give in to the will of God.  Not that is wasn't difficult, but with the assurity of peace and blessing from God.
    I was tempted with Narnia, to think of it too highly, but I was tempted with other things before. To escape, to hide, but I cannot hide from God. Whatever I am going through spiritually if I try to run from it, it is impossible. God knows my heart, He will not be fooled with my attempts to hide from spiritual responsibility.
      I have been tempted with things like I was with Narnia, I am a slow learner. I fell before, I am imperfect, I will fall again. But I have hope, and I have strength through Him.
   So my dear friend I need to ask you, are you hiding behind something? Something that may be beneficial or good if used in a moderate way? Are you running from accountability from God? Do you need to confess, obey, and accept forgiveness? If so, don't hide. Face any sin or difficulty with GOD's help. You will find peace, joy ,and blessings like streams of water on your thirsty soul. Give yourself up to His will. You will find that it will work out for good. I didn't say it, He did. Trust HIM, HE Knows.

" And we know that all things work together for good to them that love GOD, to them that are called according to HIS purpose."
                                                                            Romans 8:28" ~written by Joy at 14

God used this to show me that my children struggle with the same issues I do...just on a different level.  But the sin is still the same.  How often have I tried to "escape" from the realities of life?  Not in a childlike fantasy, but by "vegging" out with a DVD, indulging in food when I shouldn't, or buying that item I don't really need just because it gives me a lift?  When all the while, I should have been sitting at the feet of Christ being refreshed and washed in the Word.  No, my friends, let us not underestimate the struggles of our children.  God may just be using some of them to show us areas we need to work on...if we see with eyes open to His leading. 

The next morning after reading my daughter's writing, this is the quote I read.

"Our children have more right to expect that we shall be model parents than we have to require that they shall be model children.  Their temptations are as severe for them as ours are for us.  We are apt to think their burdens light, because upon our mature minds they would press with but little weight.  And thus most erroneously we excuse ourselves for defect which we censure severely in them."  ~The Mother at Home by John S.C. Abbott

May the Lord give you grace to see with His eyes the cares of your children.  God bless!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Understanding Our Children's Struggles ~ Part One

As a mother, one of the greatest gifts of love we can give to our children is to understand and sympathize with the struggles they are going through.  But, if you are like me, sometimes it is hard to remember just what it was like to be a child and experience spiritual, emotional and physical difficulties on their level.  It is easy to get caught up in the "lofty" matters of life and forget that our children's concerns are just as lofty to them as ours are to us.  It is easy to trivialize their heartaches.  You have heard adults do this, I am sure.  "Oh, when you grow up, this will be so meaningless to will have so many other bigger problems to be concerned about."  If you are like me, adults have said the same thing to you when you were a child.  And, if you are like me, you felt hurt when they said if, once again, you just couldn't find someone to understand the heartache that at that moment was so real.  It is hard sometimes for us as mothers to get down to a child's level and really empathize with them.  But, it is so needful.  Our Savior does that to us.  He does that to them.  And He is our example that we should emulate in all things.  I suppose most of our struggles could look rather insignificant to governing all of creation...and yet our Heavenly Father lovingly listens to our hurts and struggles and cares deeply for the pain we are experiencing.  I don't know about you, but I want to be that type of an example to my children.  God brought this to my attention the other day through the writing of my daughter and the words from a wonderful book I am  currently reading.  How did God use those two to remind me of this very important point?  In a way only He can do.  I will share it with you next post.  It is a little long, so for those Mommys that do not have time to sit down and read lengthy writings, I will break it up in two parts.  In the meantime, let us pray that God gives us an understanding heart when it comes to the struggles and concerns of our children.  And in so doing, we will become more and more like the Savior we serve.