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!