Thursday, June 23, 2011

A New Discipline Idea

I'm thoroughly enjoying the blog, "The Word of God and a Cup of Joe" and as a new parent, will take any wisdom I can get on parenting.

We've just started disciplining Natalie, now that she's reached the age of knowing what "No" means and needing boundaries, and we definitely don't have it figured So, if you're like me, or have a friend with a kid or ten that could use some pointers, enjoy today's post on A New Discipline Idea!

It even includes a cute little project for those of use that like things tidy!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Boundaries and Balance

This post by Lisa Whittle really spoke to me today, especially as I'm learning about boundaries. My husband and I have recently joined a small group that is doing the study, "Boundaries in Marriage" and we're really, really enjoying it. But I have to admit it's kind of kicking my butt, too! I had no idea how boundaries (and the lack of them) affect the relationships and decisions that we make each day!

It's heartbreaking to me to see families that are serving in ministry, giving so much for other people, whose own families are falling apart themselves. I can see how easily that could become my life, too, should I not learn how to set proper boundaries and learn to protect the gifts God has given me.

I think that if we could all be prayerful and intentional to follow the steps Lisa puts out in the blog, we'd do more to reinforce and strengthen our families, and our overall effectiveness in ministry as a result.

Choosing the Better Over the Good

Monday, June 20, 2011

Nat's Birthday and trying to do things differently

So, my 'baby's' first birthday is coming up in 6 days. June 24th.

6 days?! I can't believe it.

With that in mind, please bare with me as this is a solely personal blog post regarding the party planning and thoughts behind why we do what we do.

We are in the midst of planning her birthday bash, and wondering how in the world we're going to fit 30 family members in our um, humble home. :) It will be interesting! But we're really looking forward to celebrating her big day with those that love her almost as much as her daddy and I do. :)

One thing that we really want to do, and we're not quite sure how to pull it off just yet, is to make her birthday each year a day of thanksgiving - intentionally turning the focus off of solely Natalie and gifts and all the other stuff that is thrown into that day by tradition, and making it about thanking God for her life, for one more year, and recognizing all (well, to the best of our ability) that He has done in the past year up until that point. The same goes for Christmas -we really want to try to get the focus off of gifts and 'me' and turn it into a season of giving for our entire family. We're definitely open to suggestions!

We're trying to keep things meaningful and fun, without going off the deep end and spending money that we really don't have on things that really don't matter. This isn't meant to come across as judgmental to those that do like the 'big' stuff. It's definitely fun. It's just not where we are, and really where we feel the Lord leading us regarding how we spend the money that He's provided for us.

I so often fall into the trap of tradition and what others may be expecting, and do things that mean nothing to me. And I don't even realize it I'm doing it. And I spend money in ways that are careless and not meaningful, and I'm becoming convinced that God has called me to be a better manager of what He's provided than I've been in the past. So, we're trying to be meaningful, personal, and prayerful about the traditions we start as a family.

Anyways, I mainly wanted to share this super cute graphic that Jordan edited for her invites. It is really nice to have a graphic designer in the household. Natalie adores this new show on Nickelodeon called "Bubble Guppies" and so that's the theme. We're gonna have the shows running on our TIVO throughout the party, with some other fun, fishy crafts, snacks (goldfish, of course), and water fun in the backyard. She's getting a little swimming pool for her birthday (shh...don't tell her and spoil the surprise!) and we're borrowing 3-4 other little pools for the other cousins that will be there. I sure hope it doesn't rain!

So, here's the graphic:

Cute, right? :) Anyways, we're looking forward to it! I'll be sure to post pictures following the big event on July 2nd.

Thanks for sharing in my joy for a minute! :)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Clear Message

My husband and I were listening to a church's podcast we've recently discovered.

In fact, I'll let you in on a little secret. One of our new favorite ways to wind down in the evening is to put on a podcast and do jigsaw puzzles online together.

Yes, I know. It sounds super geeky. :I What can I say - I enjoy it. And with an 11-month old, it's a bit more realistic than trying to do a real puzzle and keep it out of her little grabby hands. :)

Anyways, so now that my guilty pleasure is out, I'll continue...

Last night we listened to a message entitled "What we are and what we are not." Without going into too much detail, it touched on how we, as believers, can still see ourselves as 'sinners.' At first, that sounds correct, right? He goes on to say how it's not true anymore - not insinuating that we don't still sin. But that we're no longer categorized by our sin. We're now a part of the family of God, we're now what Paul, and some of the other disciples that were powerfully chosen to pen the Word of God, called "saints." And that should be our new identity.

It seems like a small thing, but that subtle difference really does lead us to two very different results. One that identifies with the new life I've received through Christ, and strives to live in that victory, and another that still claims the old ways, and lives under defeat.

The message goes on to talk about what he refers to as "cool Christians." These are people that live on the edge and justify the gray areas in their lives as their 'freedom in grace' and their 'right' as believers.

He was personally not a big fan of this concept, and I felt like his take on it related to the internal conflict I've been having regarding this issue for quite some time.

It reminded me of another quote from "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp, where she says,

"God does not give rights but imparts responsibilities-"

I felt that this hit on what I've been struggling with. We as believers are under grace (and praise the Lord for that!) and we don't have to try to achieve the perfect standard that only Christ can be for us, our Righteousness (1 Corinthians 1:30-31). However, that grace does not afford us rights, but rather a hefty responsibility to now live lives that are clear messages of the gospel we've received.

I have to repeat that because that was a huge revelation for me last night.

I have been called to live a life that is a clear message of the gospel that I've received.

And I guess to put my stake down finally and make a stance, I don't believe that if my life resembles what it was before I was following Christ- by the shows I watch, the words I speak, the clothes I wear - that my life is sending a clear message at all.

How will people ever find life and light if I continue on in darkness?

And I'm not talking about self-imposed new standards of what I think a Christian should look and act like. That's legalism and trading old bondage for new chains.

I'm talking about the process of giving up my old way of living and putting on Christ (Ephesians 4:22-31).

Maybe all I do know is that when people look at me, I don't want them to question where I stand.

As Joshua said, "As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord."

I want that to be evident in the way I live my life - the words I speak, the shows I watch, the way I treat my family and others. And to me, that is a HUGE responsibility, one that I'm thankful God offers the grace to pursue, a way that leads to life.

Because if I say that the the Word of God is true and all that it claims, then what else makes sense?

"For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." - Colossians 1:9-13

The Shelf Life of Words

I was reminded recently of a conversation that I had with a friend in first grade.

Yes, first grade.

Probably now 22 years ago.

I don't remember what we were doing at the time that inspired this comment,but my friend turned to me in frustration and told me something along the lines of,

"You should never be a teacher. You would not be good at it."

She said it so emphatically that I remember it hurt. And I think somewhere deep down, it still stings a little bit.

The funny thing is that I don't remember ever really aspiring to be a teacher. I was not one of those kids that knew by the age of 7 what I wanted (or thought I wanted) to be when I grew up. In fact, I think I've always been a rather indecisive person.

That's one reason I love that the Word of God offers so many promises and reassurances that God will direct our paths, and why my life verse is Proverbs 3:5-6:

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding (or ability to make decisions); in all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths."

Anyways - back to the story. Even though it wasn't that this friend of mine was directly attacking this dream I had, it still hurt.

I could analyze it and maybe come to some conclusion that that is why I never pursued being a teacher. Who knows the truth of it. But regardless, I still trust in the fact that God began to direct my paths when I gave my life to Him at age 8, and as I've imperfectly followed after Him since, I believe He has had control over the direction of my life.

The point I'm getting at is that it stuck with me. These few words of discouragement. Words spoken in ignorance from someone that had no idea of the impact they would have, or the calling that God has on my life. I mean, we were just kids. 7 year olds.

But when do we grow up? When do we start to recognize the potency of words -the ability they can possess to empower and build up, or tear down and destroy?

One thing I did discover later is that I do love to 'teach'.

Not in the traditional, classroom setting kind of way, which may be why I don't even really connect it with that word very often.

What I love to do is share what I'm learning with others. In fact, that is what I feel God has told me to do - "Share with them what I've showing you. Encourage others the ways that you've been encouraged by Me."

I may not be very good at it. But that's not the point.

The point is that I believe it's all about doing what God has put before you to do - what He has given you a passion to do. And then He does it VERY WELL through you.

It may not look like the way you'd picture it.

The most powerful lessons God has taught me were not in the confines of a classroom, and that's not usually where I tend to pass them along to others either.

I've found that it usually looks like a conversation over coffee with a friend, an impromptu meeting in passing, etc.

So, regardless of the accuracy of another's assessments of your abilities and potential, the Truth is that as we seek after the Lord and allow Him to be Lord of our lives, He gives us the desires of our hearts (Proverbs 37:4). And those desires become our biggest strengths because they are indications of what He wants to do in and through your life.

And that is powerful. That is something that knocks down walls of criticism that have been erected in ignorance.

Have you had any similar experiences?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


I'm currently reading and participating in an online study on "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp. As I was posting this week's discussion questions, I had a thought that I wanted to share, and would love to hear your thoughts on the subject!

The thought was spurred off the following quote from Chapter 9 of OTG:

"Instead of filling with expectations, the joy-filled expect nothing."

I was thinking about this concept in conjunction with what I've heard taught before about 'waiting in expectation' on the Lord. And how again, it's these subtle things that trip us up.

It's like a little bit of unlevel ground beneath our feet that is so slight that as we're walking, not really intentional about our footing, can throw us flat on our faces.

The difference is that we don't wait in expectation of 'how' God is going to move - we wait in expectation for Him, period.

We wait in expectation that He will move on our behalf, that He is working in our situation, that He does hear our prayers.

But how often do I pray, and then 'wait in expectation' that He's going to answer my prayer in the way that I want it or think it should be done. I fill myself with all these thoughts and scenarios, and like Ann states, there's not room for joy because I'm distracted by my sense of control, like I'm dictating to God how it should be.

(Of course, that is rarely if ever my intent or conscious thought. But's the unlevel ground that we step on when we're not intentional to make sure our foundation is on the Truth of God's Word and His Promises.)

I would love to hear your thoughts on what you feel "waiting in expectation" on the Lord means, and how that plays out in your life.