Sunday, January 31, 2010

Guest Post: How A Young Child Thinks by Sandy Hall

What is your earliest memory? Do you remember asking questions that you were really curious about and having all the adults laugh? I do. When I was about 6, I was riding in the front seat of a ‘57 Hudson (aqua blue ) with my Grandpa and Grandma Cease. On PA Route 14 just north of Troy was the home of a family that sold tombstones; many different styles were displayed in the front yard. “Grandpa, why would they bury so many people in their front yard?” I asked, genuinely curious and astonished at the thought. Of course, Grandpa just chuckled, and Grandma made the explanation to me.

Children just do not think as adults do. How can they? Their frame of reference is still developing, their experiences are fewer, and their reasoning abilities are based more on concrete information than on abstract concepts.
Young children are naturally curious. They ask a hundred questions a day! “Why can’t I see God?” “Why did God let His Son die?” “What is heaven like?” That’s why taking time for questions your children ask is a good idea. And then answering their questions as honestly and biblically as you can is so important.

Children tend to live “in the present.” They don’t understand all the concepts of time yet, so 1,000 years ago means very little to them. Just keeping straight what happened last week or last summer is enough. Because they are more present-focused, try to make applications that apply to their lives today. It doesn’t hurt to set their sights on what kind of daddy God wants them to be some day, but the character needed to be that way 20 years from now begins in the habits they develop today.

Distinguishing between fact and fiction is difficult for children under 8 years old. In their minds, the current cartoon superhero is just as real as Goliath. They love to hear stories and will remember many details, but be sure to help them discern that Bible stories are true. These Bible characters really lived, and these events really occurred. Be careful about showing videos of Bible stories that add extra details to the story which are just the producer’s imagination. Children will accept as fact whatever you show them or tell them. That’s an awesome responsibility!
Try to put yourself in your young children’s minds. Don’t assume they’ll understand what you’re talking about. Maybe they’ve never seen a sling like David used so find a picture of one or help them make one. Show them a picture of the tomb Jesus was buried in and explain how that is different from the way we bury the dead in our day and place. Let them eat some pita so they can better picture the bread in the little boy’s lunch. Their minds are like sponges; fill them up with accurate information that satisfies their curiosity and gives them a love for truth.

(All rights reserved)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Bible Memorization

My husband and I have been convicted recently about continuing in Bible memorization.  We have been infrequent in our memorization and realize that when we hide God's Word in our hearts it guards our hearts from sin and forces us to meditate upon God's Word.  I can think of no better thing to do with our minds.  Recently, I was listening to Nancy Leigh DeMoss talk with a lady who struggled with memory problems and she had lots and lots of verses memorized.  In fact, she said that she had visited a home with severely mentally retarded adults who could not even say a sentence and they were quoting scripture.  Amazing!!!!! I was totally blown away and felt ashamed that I was not putting my full effort into memorizing scripture.  At that point, I decided that I needed to get serious about memorizing scripture.  Ever since our oldest child was 2 we have greatly encouraged and held him and all of our children accountable to memorizing scripture using Truth and Grace memory books.  One thing that helps me to memorize is to write and read over and over.  So, I decided to get a dry-erase marker and write my verse on my stove, counter top, windows, desk tops, and mirrors.  Don't worry, it all washes off clean!  I am also going to get some nice paper and matting and frame them throughout my entire house.  One of the huge benefits I am seeing is that  the kids are unintentionally memorizing scripture with me as I read it out loud every time I see it or they read it when they see it.

When it comes to Bible reading, my husband has decided instead of focusing on reading through the entire Bible this year in his personal reading to daily read through the entire book of the Bible that he is preaching through.  He is currently preaching through Titus.  Through all of this daily reading he is doing he is unintentionally memorizing scripture without even trying.  Just this morning during our family worship, he quoted 10 verses.  Plus, it helps him in his preaching as he is constantly meditating upon Titus.

I tell you all of this to encourage you that it IS possible to hide God's Word in your hearts.  If anyone wants to share what helps you to memorize God's Word, I would love to hear all about it.

Friday, January 29, 2010

It is Time For A Snack Recipe

I just made these peanut butter balls and we all cannot keep our hand off of them because they are sooooo delicious!

2 cups Grape Nuts cereal
1 cup honey
1 1/2 cups dried milk powder
1 cup peanut butter
optional: finely chopped nuts, chocolate chips, coconut, dried fruit such as cranberries

Mix all ingredients together, spoon onto cookie sheet by teaspoon sizes,  and place on a cookie sheet for about 15 minutes in the freezer.  This recipe made 40 balls the size of a teaspoon.  I added dried cranberries today and LOVED it.

If anybody has any other quick recipe, I would love to hear about it.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Spirituality and the Treadmill

Just today while I was running on the treadmill, I was listening to Nancy Leigh DeMoss who was talking about discipline and the christian walk.  It got me to thinking about my own spiritual walk compared to my new exercise routine.  In September of 2001, I realized that I was a sinner who was trying to earn my way into heaven by reading my Bible, attending church, going to Bible college, and even marrying a soon to be pastor.  I thought that by doing all of these things and because when I was 7 years old I walked down an isle at church and prayed a prayer that I was a Christian.  I thought that sin was something that I did and not  who I was by nature.  Then after an interview to join a church I realized that I had no idea what sin really was.  So, I went home and read Romans and saw that we are all born sinners and that we all fall short of God's glory and that we deserve hell without the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives causing us to repent of our sins and trust in the finished work of Christ who lived a perfect and sinless life, died a sacrificial death, rose again from the grave, and is now reigning as King at the right hand of the Father.  So, as I was reading through Romans I knew that I was in need of the Holy Spirit drawing me to Christ and that I could not just make myself believe.  I thought long and hard about how I deserved God's wrath, but also knew that because of Christ's righteousness I could have eternal life if I repented of my sins and trusted in Christ alone for the forgiveness of sins.  So, at that point in my life I started repenting of my sins and trusting in Christ alone for the forgiveness of my sins.  My life was drastically changed and I started really loving God and His Word.  Bible reading, prayer, and attending church was no longer just something to check off my list for the day making me a good person.  There was joy in serving Christ and there still is.  I wanted to please my Lord and to know Him and His righteousness and tell others all about Him.  Christian life was no longer a drudgery.

At this point you may be asking where does the treadmill fit into this story.  It fits because as I have now been faithful to using the treadmill for 7 weeks now, I realize that it takes discipline and is not always easy. Exercise is not always easy as there is a lot of sweat and stretching of the muscles.  There are some days where I am simply tired and do not want to get on the treadmill.  However, immediately after getting off of the treadmill I feel much better.  The spiritual life is not always easy.  It takes discipline to pursue Christ and His righteousness.  You do not grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ with out trials and without work.  It takes discipline to study God's Word, memorize God's Word, meditate upon His Word, share His Word with others, and teach it faithfully to your children all the time.  There are many days when I just want to coast along and do the minimum.  However, God tells us to persevere in the Christian walk and that without holiness no one will see the Lord.  Do not lose hope, persevere, and look to Christ.  Isaiah 40:28-31 tells us, "Have you not known?  Have you not heard?  The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He does not faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable.  He gives power to the faint, and to Him who has no might He increases strength.  Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint."

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Even The Best Laid Plans Get Interrupted

This morning I awoke at 6am and went to the bathroom to get dressed and read my Bible.  However, I heard something outside the bathroom door.  I opened the door and to my great surprise I found 3 of my children happily playing with blocks.  At that point I could have easily gotten angry because my plans to read my Bible were interrupted or I could just accept it and make the best of the situation.  So many times throughout the day I get interrupted (even now as I type this, I must go back and forth and type every chance I can get).  Life is about a choice.  Do I chose to accept the situation, change the situation, whine and complain about the situation and do nothing, or just get angry and yell at my kids and those who are interrupting my schedule?  It all goes back to whether or not this is really my schedule.  One thing that I am learning is that this life is not about me and always following my schedule, but being flexible and realizing that the Lord is in control of my schedule and it is really His schedule.  My character is being shaped throughout all of this.  My prayer is that I will be submissive to His plan for my life today.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Treasuring God's Word In Spite of Interruptions

Are you ever over ambitious and decide to try something that is usually out of your league? Well, this year I saw a challenge to read the entire Bible in 90 days and decided to jump on the wagon.  To begin with I started it one week late.  Then I have never been able to completely follow a one year plan.  Last of all, my time is very limited with 5 young children.  For the first few days I was doing well keeping up.  I was excited and telling others all about it.  Then reality hit somewhere between Exodus and Leviticus.  This was a real challenge and I could not keep up with the pace.  I specifically set aside one hour before of reading time before the children awoke in the morning.  Slowly, that time would be interrupted some days or I would not have disciplined myself to get to bed early enough the night before to get up early enough.  At first, I found myself frustrated and wondering why I even took on such an enormous challenge.  Then, I just decided that it was not worth getting all worked up over and I would just work with the time the Lord had given me for that particular day and be thankful for the time I got to spend alone in God's Word.  I try to read at night, but find myself too tired to focus so I just try to read for anywhere from 30 minutes to one hour each morning.  So far, I have gotten farther along in my Bible reading than I ever have in the past and am learning the "big picture" of it all.  I have gotten through Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, and half of Numbers, as well as Ezra and Nehemiah.  Throughout all of this I have learned that what matters is spending time daily in the Word of God.  It really does not matter if you follow a plan or read for a specified amount of time.  Don't become legalistic in your Bib;e reading.  Treasure God's Word, enjoy it, meditate upon it, and hide it in your heart.  When interruptions come make the most of them.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Back Up And Running

I am officially back online and loving every minute!  Today we went computer shopping.  We went everywhere and compared prices and did lots of talking and decided on an Apple I-Mac.  This is our first Mac and I am loving it.  Originally we had decided that we wanted a laptop and then my husband and I saw this Apple I-Mac desktop and was convinced that this was what we wanted if we were to make a purchase.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Computer Crashed...

Our computer crashed on Tuesday due to an unexpected power surge by the power company.  I am at a friend's house typing this note.  Therefore, I will be taking a blogger break till I get a new computer.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Guest Writer: Sandy Hall on Mothering Little Ones

I have a dear friend who is a very wise mother to 5 children, a pastor's wife, and a friend.  Her name is Sandy Hall and I have asked her if she will occasionally be my guest in writing some articles for my blog.  Years ago, while she was in another church she wrote newsletters as an encouragement to young moms.  It is my prayer that you find her as encouraging as I do.

Mothering Little Ones
Principle and Practice

Feeling overwhelmed? Like you are on a treadmill that won’t stop going faster and faster? Like you could take your head off and set it down because of lack of sleep? Like you will never get past this stage of life? Wondering if the vacuum will hold up to the abuse of any more Legos sucked up in it? You must be a MOMYS - “mother of many young siblings”! (There’s actually a website with this title with lots of good tips and encouragement. I’ve been where you are and, believe it or not, secretly wish sometimes that those days were back! Don’t get me wrong; I’m enjoying each stage of my children’s growth. But there is something special about those years when they were all young. My dad always reminded me, “These are the hardest years, but these are the best years.” My oldest is now 24 and my youngest is 14, so I’m not really so far from the way things were just 10 years ago when they were all young. Here are some principles to remind you of what is really true...lest your emotions try to tell you differently. And some practical tips to help you truly enjoy these years more.


❶ Children are a gift from the Lord. Psalm 127:3 reminds us that “children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.” So when your four-year-old refuses to obey, your two-year-old gets sick all over the covers for the third time that night, when you can’t settle the fussy baby, when siblings fight over a toy....remember the priceless value of your children. They are gifts straight from God to you. Your home is like a nursery for God, a safe place to train up His future soldiers. He knew exactly which kind of children you needed and would be good at raising. He planned it all out in eternity past and knew each little one even in your womb. They are a gift. And are with you such a short time in light of eternity. So treasure the presents God gives you!

❷We reap what we sow. Galatians 6:7 says, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” When we lived in Michigan we had a garden for 6 or 7 years and can vouch for the validity of this principle. We got what we planted (most of the time, unless the deer, woodchucks, rabbits or squash beetles got it first!). Determine what you want to produce in the lives of your children and even your grandchildren. Now is planting time, not reaping time. Don’t be discouraged...harvest will come, but make sure you’ve planted what is good so there is a good harvest. Sit down with your husband and discuss what it is that you want to plant in the hearts of your children. Here are some questions to stimulate your discussion:

How can I help my children realize that the Scriptures are absolute truth?

How can I help them learn to reflect the character of Christ?

How can we direct their hearts toward their father?

How can we teach them to be kind to one another and sensitive to the needs of others?

How will they learn to honor their elders?

After jotting down your answers to those questions and any others you think and talk about, now implement what needs to be done while their hearts are tender and their character easily molded. Make specific changes and then evaluate how things are going in 6 months and a year from now. Yes, our children have sin natures, but who will teach them these good things if we do not? Ultimately, the Lord holds us responsible with the years we have to form their lives while they are in our homes. What we plant now, we will reap later. Most of the time, I find it is me that needs changing first if I am going to find the wisdom and strength to teach them to my children. Help us, Lord.

❸The third principle to remember is “This too shall pass.” The difficulties you are experiencing right now will some day be gone. You may face even bigger ones! But at least, the things you think are difficult right now will pass. A dear older godly lady, Shirley Russell, reminded me of that many times over the years. Now that I’m older, I see the truth of it. She was right! (Thank you, Lord, for the wisdom of the older women at our church!) And keep in mind, not only do the difficulties pass, but the special joys also pass. No longer will you feel the squeeze of your snugly toddler’s love, no longer will you sing a quiet lullaby to a fussy baby in the stillness of the night, no longer will you watch them take their first steps or play their first piano solo or hear their first prayer or Sunday school verse. These treasured moments will be memories. They will pass and you will wonder where the years went when there are no more fingerprints on the windows, or Legos on the floor or in the vacuum, or your boy calls home from college. Enjoy this time. Don’t wish this time gone so quickly. It will be anyway!

Practical Tips:

❶ Temper your expectations. Remember your children are just that....children. Not adults yet. They don’t think like adults and can’t perform household tasks like adults. I start with this one because it is something hard for me. This doesn’t mean you don’t work with them to learn, but appreciate their efforts and help them do better next time. Praise what they do right!

❷ Teach precept upon precept. This means buying up the teachable moments. It means spending time talking with them, not just to them. Use bedtimes and other quiet moments to share your life’s story, family memories of God’s work in your lives, prayer requests, and special traditions. You don’t have to teach them everything today! Just teach today what you can through the events and circumstances of the day. If we taught or reinforced just one truth per day for 18 years, just think how many that is over those many years. When you change a diaper, give a bath, dress a toddler, feed a child...have a specific song or Scripture verse to sing or quote on those occasions. At our house, diaper changes were times to quote all of Genesis 1; nursing times were to sing “Jesus Paid It All”; bath time was to sing “Gone, Gone, Gone, Now My Sins are Gone”; and rocking time was to sing “A Shelter in the Time of Storm.” Surely, a tiny infant didn’t understand all of what was being said, but his mind and heart were being programmed in the truths of God. Now those verses and songs are special and remembered. Precept upon precept!

❸ Have a plan. Prepare ahead of the difficulties. Come armed with a plan of attack. Step back a few minutes to evaluate. Ask older women for help and advice. Get your husband’s insight. Here are a few tips to help you. Why not try one?

√ Use the crock pot for supper meals. Get it going early in the day so supper prep is not so stressful.

√ Use the playpen to keep a little one safe while you get some chores done for a half hour or an hour. If a young child can still see you and hear you, and he has some toys to play with, this time will not harm him. And it will help you get some things done in short time intervals.

√Use your little one’s nap time to its fullest. Try to plan the tasks you need to get done during that time. Maybe it’s read to an older child or finish up dishes.

√ Keep a list handy of things the little ones can do. Sometimes when things were really crazy, I couldn’t think off the top of my head of something to occupy them. Post a chart of options in a visible place.

√ Teach your young children to enjoy looking at good books. Lots of them. We always had a regular rest time in the afternoon for everyone. Even the older ones who didn’t need a nap, had a quiet time with a stack of books on their bed. “Rest time, best time” we called it. Also, just before Bud came home from work, I would often have everyone find a place to sit in the living room and look quietly at books until he came in the door. This helped me finish up supper prep and calmed our home before meal time. Mmmmm....maybe I’ll try that again now!☺

√ Play happy, quality music that is classical or worshipful throughout the day. Lively, rambunctious music is okay at times, but children can also appreciate beautiful, peaceful music if you train them young.

√ Read quality books to your children. Have regular reading times throughout the day and before bedtime. This teaches them so much: a well-developed appreciation for good literature, an extended attention span, a rich vocabulary and a love for reading that will go with them through life.

❹ Lastly, learn to laugh and delight in your children. This doesn’t mean excusing their disobedience or making them the family clowns and entertainment, but it mean truly enjoying them.

Listen to them, enjoy the delights of their special new experiences, play their little games, see the world through their simplicity. Actually they have much to teach us since Jesus told us that we must become like little children to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Their humility and trusting faith in God is an example for us all.

One of the best things I’ve enjoyed about being in ministry for over 25 years is that I’ve been able to see the teens we’ve worked with grow up and start their families. I delight in seeing them cuddling infants, chasing toddlers and training up the next generation. Hang in there! Hold on to God; seek His wisdom. At this stage of your lives, “look well to the ways of your household and eat not the bread of idleness” for one day your “children will rise up and call you blessed, and your husband also.” (My paraphrase of Proverbs 31: 27-28)

All rights reserved.


Do You Want Clutter Solution?

I just found the most inspiring solution for keeping track of everyone's stuff that ends up wandering freely about the house and at the end of the day makes the house a mess.  Danielle, over at wrote a great post on Jan.6, 2010 entitled, My Storage Chairs.  Please go and check out her post.  For now I am going to go and sew some fashionable bags and personalize them so that I can be hanging them on the back of everyone's chair.  This week is a great week for visiting Michael's craft store.  They are having their dollar days.  I purchased lots of ribbon for $1 and less.  

Friday, January 15, 2010

This Way, Ruby!

I just read This Way, Ruby by Rebecca Harry to my youngest son and realized how much it made me think about our 2nd son. This book is about a duck family that has five little duckling. Four of them are very quick and one is always dawdling behind taking her time looking at everything in her world. Her other siblings are always calling to her and saying, "this way, Ruby!" Ruby always catches up to them and then they move on. As they are on their journey one day a storm comes up and four of them get scared and lost. Ruby comes out and admits that she is scared too. However, because she has been paying attention to her surroundings she is able to safely lead them home.

This makes me think of our second child who always seems to be in a world of his own. He is fascinated by everything. He wants to know how everything works and is always asking questions. He even goes off exploring with in my limits. When we go on trips, he is the one who is looking out the window and paying attention to where we are going. He is precious, very loving, ever so curious about his world, and cuddly. I just wonder if we ever needed his help if he would be like Ruby and know exactly where we were. Do you have a child like this who also has an unusual fascination with everything in their world and test your every limits? I would love to hear your stories.

Bible Reading And Interruptions

As a mom, I often deal with interruptions in my Bible reading time. I could have easily chosen to just give up and not read during this season in my life. However, I knew how much I needed God's Word in my life so I persevered. Having five children sometimes makes it challenging to find the time when there are no interruptions. A person who is determined to do something will set their mind to do it no matter what interruptions come their way.

Bible reading for me has looked different during the different seasons of my life. When I had a very young baby and I was exhausted from being up at all hours of the night to nurse that particular child I found it difficult to rise early in the morning and read my Bible. During that time, I usually nursed a baby while I read aloud the scriptures. Another time, I took my infant and toddler and read my Bible aloud to them while my husband read aloud to our preschooler. Other times, we have the NIrV Bible on cd's that I let them listen to while I read my Bible. Currently, I am taking up the challenge of reading the entire Bible in 90 days. I get up and read for an hour before the kids get up. Just this morning, I did not get up early enough and found myself being interrupted during my hour, so I held my busy 16 month old while I finished reading aloud the chapter I was reading. Rather than try to continue my Bible reading for the day and end up getting frustrated at everyone for interrupting "my time" I just chose to be thankful that I was able to read at least half of my reading today and will read the other half probably tonight.

I hope that this helps someone out there who may also be struggling with personal Bible reading. The book that most encouraged me while I was seeking out time to have my quiet time before the Lord was Finding A Place of Quiet Rest by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. What has helped you most in finding your time alone with God in His Word? How do you find the time to read God's Word? When are you most alert? In future posts I would like to also write about memorizing God's Word.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

His Strength Is Made Perfect In My Weakness

This morning I woke up realizing I was in need of a much needed break. I was crabby with all those around me not because of anything they did, but because of the monotony and busyness of life. My strength had hit rock bottom. My husband, being the kind and compassionate husband he is, told me to just take the day off and do what I wanted to do. He said that he would teach school to the children. I took him up on the offer and did our errands, cleaned house, cooked meals, read blogs for a long time, exercised, and listened to Nancy Leigh DeMoss. The Lord knew exactly what I needed. His strength is made perfect in my weakness. She spoke on Isaiah 40:28-31 "Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might He increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." Now this verse brings much encouragement to my weary soul. I do believe that I will be committing it to memory this year. I am planning on memorizing and meditating on one verse per week this year. I want to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Nancy DeMoss spoke about how that we should behold our God. He comes with might and power. His arm rules. He is in control of all things. The Lord is also tender and compassionate shepherd. He cares for us like no other. Do we find others thinking less of God because of our responses to life's circumstances or do we find others seeking God because we turn to God for all of life whether good or bad? If we do not behold our God in the midst of life's circumstances then we will become bitter and angry with God. We must behold our God! In order to do this we must go back to what we know is true. We must exercise our faith. God has no weakness. He never runs out of strength. Many days we grow weary and weak. We have no more strength left to face our families. Behold our God! He gives us His strength. His power is made perfect in our weakness. We must come to the end of our strength to know God's strength. As a mom, there may be times when our children are sick and we are up all night with them. We anxiously wait for the morning to come. Just as we wait for the morning to come when our children are sick, we wait for the Lord when we are without strength and our strength will be renewed. To be renewed means that we exchange our strength for His strength.

Eagles are amazing birds. Storms arise and they mount up their wings and fly above the storm. When storms arise in our lives the Lord will lift us up above life's storms. He will allow us to keep running without growing weary. Where do you turn when life becomes overwhelming? Turn to the Lord. His strength is made perfect in our weakness.

I want to end by quoting a great hymn, Higher Ground by Johnson Oatman, Jr.
I'm pressing on the upward way, new heights I'm gaining every day; still praying as I'm onward bound, "Lord, plant my feet on higher ground." My heart has no desire to stay, where doubts arise and fears dismay; tho' some may dwell where these abound, my prayer, my aim, is higher ground. I want to live above the world, tho' Satan's dart at me are hurled; for faith has caught the joyful sound, the song of saints on higher ground. I want to scale the utmost height and catch a gleam of glory bright; but still I'll pray till heaven I've found, "Lord, lead me on to higher ground." Lord, lift me up and let me stand by faith on heaven's table-land; a higher plane than I have found- "Lord, plant my feet on higher ground."

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The End of the Day...

At the end of the day the house is all clean and now the kids are enjoying one of their favorite times of the day when daddy reads to them. Daddy is reading Piper's Night Before Christmas and later Circus McGurkus by Dr. Seuss.
I will take any help I can get. The earlier you can start them the better. She is doing it cheerfully.
My beautiful, clean school room cleaned by my wonderful helpers.
Another job well cleaned.
At the end of the day I was worried that we would not make it to the end of the day with a clean house and a happy mommy. However, I was wrong! The job was well done and we have a happy family.

Being Real With Life

At the end of the day, the kids really enjoy getting to spend time with daddy.
I would say that this is also my husbands favorite part of his day.
Daddy's girl's just love him lots.
Our toy and book area was well played in today.
Joshua enjoyed playing tent while playing with legos and reading books.
One day away from the laundry leads to this.

This is life after an entire day in the city with doctor visits, clothing shopping, and grocery shopping yesterday. The next day lends itself to a lot of work. Today we had a full and fun day home schooling and cooking, but now have prayer meeting tonight and this to clean up. The great side to all of it is that with 5 kids even though the mess sure adds up fast it also gets cleaned up fast. Everyone has their own jobs to do so that it is not entirely overwhelming for me. This would drive any sane mom crazy if she had the entire mess to clean up herself. I LOVE a clean home. But for now I have to realize that today has been a successful day. School has been taught, kids are napping, the house is peacefully quiet at the moment, and dinner is ready.

Monday, January 11, 2010

My HCG's are Finally Negative!

I received a letter from my doctor on Saturday stating that my hcg numbers were finally negative and that I now only have to have hcg tests monthly for a year. He said that as long as my hcg numbers stay negative for an entire year then next January we are free to try again for more children. Praise the Lord! It took 7 weeks to drop to negative. I am also feeling much better now. My energy is coming back. I am not sure if that is from exercising (now 4 weeks on the treadmill) or from taking Super Mom vitamins (highly recommended). What ever it is, I am thankful!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Guest Writer: My Husband, Don, on Worship Matters

Worship Matters

If you have been involved in the life of a local church for any time, you realize that there are many different views concerning worship. Some people advocate traditional worship, while others argue for contemporary worship. Some prefer liturgical worship, while others favor missional worship. Sadly, it seems that, whenever the issue of worship is hotly debated among God's people, the focus is on the style of worship -- not on the message. We forget that every element of worship teaches a message. Therefore, as we think about corporate worship, we should understand that the message of the gospel should shape the manner of our worship. That is, when God's people gather to exalt God's name, they should focus upon God's message, the gospel. In other words, when we gather for the purpose of corporate worship, we should be gospel-centered. As we think about this subject, we are forced to ask a theological and practical question. What are the emphases of gospel-centered worship?

Gospel-centered worship emphasizes adoration. When the gospel shapes our worship practice, God's people gather to recognize His greatness and grace. They praise Him for His glorious attributes and gracious actions. They exalt Him for who He is and what He has done. Gospel-centered worship also emphasizes confession. When the gospel shapes our worship practice, God's people recognize their sin and need for grace. They are confronted with God's holiness and their sinfulness. God's law thunders from Mount Sinai, so that they will see the beauty of Mount Calvary. Gospel-centered worship also emphasizes assurance. As the gospel shapes our worship practice, we affirm God's provision for grace. We focus upon the Son of God. We remember that He is the very source of our salvation. We are reminded that He merited our salvation by His sinless life and sacrificial death. We consider afresh that He conquered death and hell, so that all who are united to Him receive the blessings of salvation. We are reminded again that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Gospel-centered worship also emphasizes petition. As the gospel shapes our worship practice, we express dependence on God's grace. We offer up our prayers to the Father in the name of the Son through the power of the Spirit, realizing that our great High Priest sympathizes with our weaknesses. Gospel-centered worship also emphasizes instruction. As the gospel shapes our worship practice, we acquire the knowledge of how to grow in grace. We gather to hear God's Word read and preached. We listen to His holy Word, so that we might live holy lives. We listen carefully, so that we will live circumspectly.

Worship is not a peripheral matter in the life of a local congregation. In fact, it is central, because how we worship shapes what we believe and what we believe influences how we live. Because of these facts, corporate worship should focus upon the central message of the Scripture. It should focus upon the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Book Review: Nehemiah

The book of Nehemiah starts out with Hanani, Nehemiah's brother, telling him that Jerusalem has been burned and its walls broken down and gates burned. The exiles are in great danger at this point. Nehemiah, the cup bearer to King Artaxerxes, becomes very sad. King Artaxerxes notices and asks him why he is sad. He tells him why and asks permission to go back to his own country and rebuild the wall and restore proper worship. The king agrees to let him go as long as he is back at the time he agreed to return. Nehemiah arrives back in Jerusalem and takes a survey look around the entire town without anyone knowing what he is doing. He formulates a plan and sets it into action. The wall is rebuilt, the gates are set in place, and guards are set up all around the builders as they work because they are experiencing persecution. The rebuilding of Jerusalem is finished in 52 days!!! Certain people are appointed as singers, gatekeepers, Levites, and such. Nehemiah provides for those who are doing the work of re-building. Offerings are lifted up in praise to the Lord for His faithfulness in allowing the wall to be rebuilt and worship to be properly restored. Prayer, fasting, confessions, and great rejoicing all took place. Nehemiah then returns to King Artaxerxes. When he comes back to check on the people in Jerusalem he finds out how greatly they fell into sin and becomes irate with them. He talks to the people and makes prayers of confession to the Lord for Him to see his faithfulness. The book then ends. However, we do not lose hope because we know that the theme of Nehemiah is that God works sovereignly through responsible human agents to accomplish His redemptive purpose.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Being Real With My Sins

When I first started this blog, I started it because I live in a very cold (spiritually and physically) and lonely place. I am homeschooling alone here and I was hoping to be able to somehow communicate with others who are on this same journey. Little did I know that during this time I would lose an unborn baby girl. As I shared my struggles during this process that I have been going through, I have been amazed and encouraged by the kind words of other moms who sadly enough have been on this journey also. Thank you, ladies, for your kind and encouraging words.

I want to be real and share my struggles and my joys with you all. At the beginning of the year, I decided that I wanted to be faithful in Bible reading and writing book summaries on this blog as I finish a book in the Bible. So, each morning, I wake up and read my Bible and then walk on my treadmill . Exercise has helped me mentally and physically. During all of this I have also been reading, The Heart of Anger, and asking the Lord to clearly reveal my sins and help me to put them to death. He sure has and it is a painful process!!! My husband and I married in 1996 and our first child was born in 2000, after struggling for 4 years of infertility. We never thought that we would have children and now He has blessed us with 5 children here on earth and one little girl in heaven. He has used my children to clearly reveal to me my sins. As I deal with the children daily, I am also helping them to deal with their sins. I am starting to see my own sins manifested in my children's lives. Talk about humbling, it is very humbling to look at my children and say in all honesty that the reason that they are struggling with that particular sin is because they see it modeled in me. They have great respect for my husband, because he is a wonderful father who addresses issues immediately. Since 2000, I have either been pregnant or nursing with little to no break in between each child and now I am actually having a break and starting to feel great. I see how lazy I had become in my parenting and am now reaping the bad seeds I had sown. I would address the issues, but not always promptly. Multiply that by 5 and sometimes there is a lot of stress and chaos. Also, the younger you address the issue the better. My oldest is 9! I do love being a mom and I want to be a mom that is filled with joy. It is my prayer that when others, like my husband, walk in the door they will see a home that is filled with the fragrant aroma of Christ. When I was going through infertility, I thought being a mom was going to be easy and always joyful. Now, I see that it is hard work and not always joyful. I want our home to be a peaceful home when my husband walks in the door, not fighting and arguing between the kids and I. What things help you to have a peaceful home where you and others enjoy being a part of? I am thankful that the Lord is purging me and it is my prayer that He will give me the grace necessary to endure the purging and to change.

Monday, January 4, 2010

I Am Needing Suggestions....

This year I have decided to memorize one verse a week and have decided to start with Proverbs 31:10-31. That takes me up through week 22. I still need to cover weeks 23-52. I am typing them up onto card stock that I will keep in the front of my Bible. Any verse suggestions that you have memorized that has been an encouragement to you? Our children use Truth and Grace memory books that already has memory verses and catechism for them that we work on daily.

Are We Willing To Go Outside the Camp and Share the Gospel?
Please watch this video. It is David Platt speaking at the Southern Baptist Pastors Conference 2009 about missions.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Happy Birthday, Aaron!!!

Three years ago today at this exact moment (7:30 AM, January 3, 2007) you made your presence into this world in a very memorable way. The day before I taught school and then went to the doctor for a regular check-up. I had started dialating and the doctor sent me home and said that he would just see me in a few days as I had a reduction date scheduled since we live 60 miles (an hour and a half from the hospital). The next morning I woke up in terrible pain and told my husband that we should call 911 since that is what you do when there are no hospitals withing 60 miles. Our neighbor, Carol, was the paramedic on call that day and she asked me if I wanted to deliver at home or just get on the ambulance and head to the hospital. Not knowing what to do, I chose to take an ambulance ride, which proved to be very eventful. A friend stayed with the other children and daddy drove the car (yes, we had a car- a borrowed car because our car window broke the day before, not a van. You were our 4th child!) Bob, the driver of the ambulance, pulled over just outside of town to pick up another EMT and decided it would be best for daddy to get on if he wanted to see you born. While en route to the hospital in White Lake, you made your presence into this world with many complications that I will tell you about when you are old enough to understand. We got about one block from the hospital and a van hit our ambulance while I was trying to deliver your afterbirth. God was watching over you because just two days before the law had changed where instead of you being placed in an incubator box on the side of the ambulance that was hit I was able to hold you. Everyone fell on top of me and I wrapped my arms around you tightly and just rolled over. You were protected from harm. You had no injuries and neither did any of us other than much soreness. We received lots of attention and the media even came in and did interviews. You were on t.v.! Your name means, "mountain of strength". I believe that fits you perfectly! I am thankful to have a little boy like you, Aaron! Happy Birthday, love Mommy.

Book Review: Ezra

Ezra from the Holy Scriptures was written by possibly Ezra, but not really known who the exact author was. It seems to be that the person who wrote Ezra also wrote Nehemiah. This book of the Bible is inspired by God and written by holy men of old. It was written during the time period of 430-400 B.C. Unrest was going on and the Jews had been exported from their land due to disobedience. Now, the Jews who had been exiled had returned to their land and God is showing us that He has a remnant (a people chosen for His name)and that He is continuing His sovereign work of redemption and reestablishing true worship among His people. This book shows us God's compassion for His chosen people and his judgement for those who are disobedient. The book starts out with King Cyrus, king of Persia, making a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and putting it into writing that the temple of the Lord is to be rebuilt and all who are able are to help. We see the foundation laid, the exiles return, the alter rebuilt (and offerings made to the Lord and feast days kept. Next we see adversaries come and scare away the people. This is during the second year and the rebuilding stops. It seems at this point like all hope is lost! Later, King Artaxerxes, takes the throne in Persia. A letter is written to him concerning this matter and he orders the rebuilding of the temple to stop. It does not start again until the second year of the reign of King Darius of Persia. He orders that the temple rebuilding start and not be hindered. The temple is rebuilt and the passover is celebrated. Money is given and offerings are made before the Lord as Ezra teaches the people and appoints counselors and leaders in certain places. All is going well until, someone comes to Ezra and tells him that the priests and Levites have fallen into sin and taken foreign wives. He grieves bitterly, fasts, and prays to the Lord concerning this matter. It is then decided that all people should gather together while Ezra addresses the issue. The people confess their sins and agree to divorce the women. The book ends on a rather sad note listing all those who had married foreign women and some had children. We ask the question, "Now where is God? Is He working?" The answer is,"Yes!!!" He must first bring about true repentance and there still remains a people devoted to His name.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Being Honest With My Feelings

I have been feeling very sad and a bit jealous lately as I view many other blogs of women who are pregnant and due around the same time I was due (June 10, 2010). I often stop and think that I would be feeling our baby moving around now. My sweet little one is 16 months and I was just figuring out that they would have been 21 months apart. That spacing is what I like most. I know that God is in control and that He gave and He took away, blessed be His name, but that does not take away the feeling that I have. Many people try and say kind things but they don't always help. The empty and "out of my control" feeling that I have is still there. Then people try and comfort me by saying, "just be thankful for the 5 you have". I am thankful, I am just sad some days. Let me mourn and be sad some days even though I do have great peace knowing that God is in control. Emotions are real and overwhelming some days.

What Is Heart of The Anger Issue For Which you Are Dealing With

Have you ever wondered as a parent if you are getting to the heart of the behavior in your child? I have and I decided to examine my motives when I discipline my children and to look at their heart. If we merely deal with just the issue at hand in our children (example: disrespectful attitude toward parent, stealing, lying, ignoring a parents command), then we are not really addressing the root of the problem. It is easy to just make a Pharisee out of our children and see outward conformity. Scripture teaches us that the heart is deceitfully wicked and who can know. So then you may ask, "okay, I am convinced. How do I get from just the issue at hand to the heart of the issue?" First of all you must know your own heart and the sins for which you struggle. A study of Matthew 5 is also helpful in interrupting the law. We can be encouraged when we read Hebrews 4:12 "For the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart." We need to look to Christ and to the Word of God for answers! As I read, The Heart of Anger, Lou Priolo gives us some helpful insights on pages 94 and 95 of his book..
Christian parent, you must learn not only how to draw the thoughts and motives out of your child, but also how to diagnose those thoughts and motives; "not in words taught by human wisdom (i.e. defense mechanism, reaction formation, love hunger, codependency, etc.) but in those taught by the Spirit (i.e. pride, blame shifting, idolatry, bondage, etc.) combining (interpreting) spiritual thoughts with spiritual words." I Corinthians 2:13

The goal of all this training in righteousness is to develop within your child the ability and desire to bring captive every thought to the obedience of Christ (I Corinthians 10:5). As your child learns to speak the truth in his heart (Psalm 15:2) as a matter of habit, he will gain more control over his spirit (Proverbs 25:28; 16:32).

More Updates on Esther

Just this morning I received an updated note from Daniel, Esther's dad, and I just wanted to share it with you all who are praying for the Elliot family. She is the little girl who is 6 years old and has terminal cancer and not long to live.

Dear Friends,
We would like to express our deep appreciation for your prayers and support. It is a great comfort to know that people all over the world are praying for us and for Esther. We arrived in Steens, MS yesterday so that Esther could spend some time with her cousins while she is still feeling great. The trip was rough, but she did ok.

This morning (1.2.09) soon after we woke up, we got a phone call from my brother. Dwane Baker, Lydia's father, had a stoke last night. We do not know many details at this point, but would appreciate your prayers.
We appreciate your prayers as we go through this difficult time.

For Souls,
Daniel Elliott
Your Missionaries to Mongolia