Category Archives: Being a Disciple of Jesus

Joys and Sadness and Promises

I started this blog with the intention of writing about how the kids sometimes spend their time during our school reading. I loaded the pictures and started writing. I even came up with a few titles.

Couch Time Arts and Crafts
Read Aloud Entertainment
Random Craft Books We Like

David and Marco - working on the Buck Book

David and Marco – working on the Buck Book

Hmmm. Yeah, had a hard time coming up a very catchy title.

Sarah's art book

Sarah’s art book and her bucket of gel pens – art waiting to happen!

I tried to do a search on the blog for other posts I’ve written on this subject, and then I got lost in all the cuteness of the kids from blogging days gone by. Is it weird that I find my own writing entertaining? Oh dear. Is that a little narcissistic? But really, this blog about Rachel getting glasses. I mean, how could I resist spending time reading about a day from Feb 2007. Especially when Sarah and I went to the eye doctor yesterday.

Strange how life circles around.

And then I started wondering about the passage of time and the hopes, dreams, and changes in life. Does the Lord protect us from seeing too far into the future because He knows we need to live in TODAY and not focus on the joys, sadnesses, losses, heart breaks, and victories coming in the TOMORROWS ahead of us. But that seems odd because, wouldn’t we treasure the moments today if we knew they were fleeting? Or maybe we would dread the pain that was coming too much to walk forward. It would paralyze us. And we would cling too much to the joyful moments that we couldn’t enjoy them, knowing they were going to end.

Sarah's beautiful creations

Sarah’s beautiful creations

I don’t know. This is what happens when I blog late at night after reading old posts of “days gone by”. I start to wax on a bit maudlin in tone. Oh dear, now I’ve used the word maudlin in the day’s blog.

When I search the scriptures and think about the hope that the Lord offers and the peace that He promises, I think it is okay to savor the joys and mourn the losses. I can’t turn back time and relive the years when my father was alive or the busy days of homeschooling all five kids. I can’t live them any more fully than I did.

Regrets do nothing but amplify pain and sadness.

I can, however, be PRESENT in today.

Love that grin!

Love that grin!

I can listen when David tells me his dreams from last night’s sleep.
I can pay attention when Sarah shares thoughts about friendship and cliques and “being cool.”
I can look at Frisbee clips on the computer and laugh at random videos with Daniel.

Working on Ultimate stats

Working on Ultimate stats

I can capture the day’s moments on film and journal on the blog.
I can hug more, fuss less.
I can praise more and criticize less.
I can be thankful EVERY DAY for the abundant blessings in my life.
I can teach and study and share my love of learning.
I can love and forgive and encourage the kids to do the same.
I can be transparent when I’m moved by God’s grace and power (even if that means tears).
I can mourn losses and give us all freedom to grieve when we need to.

“Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Rev 21:3-4

I can live with joy today because I know that I have a future ahead of me that is greater than anything I can imagine. I can walk in peace today because I have a God who promises never to leave or forsake me. I can laugh and cry over memories of yesterday without letting it consume my tomorrow.

And so the post I started writing (arts and crafts and read-alouds) took a bit of a rambling turn and ended in a sweet message from the Lord to me. How fitting that the song that He gave me to end my time was Matt Maher’s Lord, I Need You.

Every hour I need you. Amen.

Project 365 – Day 77

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The Answer is Found Here

The Lord and I have been wrestling today. Actually I’ve been wrestling with my own heart, spirit and sin. My brokenness and flesh raise its ugly head at every opportunity. Thankfully the Lord has an answer for my struggle and for my weaknesses.

Learning so much about love

Sarah painted this for me.

He’s been meeting me in every moment. I’ve been called to really grow and stretch this month. I’ve had to operate in His strength and not mine. I’ve had to walk through situations, covered in the prayers of friends. I’ve been so empty of my own wisdom and knowledge and ability to walk forward, that His wisdom, glory and love shone brighter than I’ve ever seen it.

My new journal Bible from Tim.

This morning I sat with these two books – my big journal and my new Bible

And this morning, when I came to Him with some hurts and pain, He was there. Quietly breathing life and truth into my soul. As the intensity of the situation has passed, it leaves in its wake the bruises of hurts and offenses and more brokenness.

I can hear my pride fussing about how I was wronged. I hear my self-righteous spirit whine about the sins of “other Christians.” Instead of peace and joy, I find myself wanting validation and justification, even maybe a little vengeance thrown into the mix.

His Word brings me comfort and truth.

His Word brings me comfort and truth.

And so the words in Matthew 5 were especially tender to me today.

“And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil again you falsely on my account.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

With eyes once more focused on Him, I picked up my pen and confessed my sins to the Lord. I scribbled down my hurts and my concerns and my fears. I listened. I opened my hands, again, to what He is doing through me. I promised to trust Him – His timing, His leading, His protection. With unsteady hands, I told Him I would obey, even if the steps were painful. I would be pure in heart. I would be merciful. I would be a peacemaker. I would rejoice and be glad, even if others persecute me. I will be meek. I will hunger and thirst for righteousness, not personal satisfaction or public glory.

I will love.

I found the answer, again, in His Word, His Presence, His Truth.

Project 365 – Day 57

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OK, I admit, SALL is not a very good acronym.

I created a Serve and Drama Team for our AWANA program this year, but I just couldn’t pull together a decent acronym. Sometimes you have to know the limits of what you can do. I’ll leave the acronym generation for those who follow on with this program.

Serve, Act, Lead, Love

Serve, Act, Lead, Love

For several years, I’ve been worried about a disturbing trend I am noticing in churches.

While kids are in elementary school, some churches do a pretty good job of teaching them about the Bible and giving them a chance to be involved. At our church, fourth, fifth and sixth-graders serve in the nursery, lead worship for the younger grades, or help out with preschool classes. In AWANA we encourage them to memorize God’s Word and bring friends with them to church. There seems potential to become useful members of the body of Christ.

Then they get to Junior High age, and it seems like everything changes. Lay-leader adults, effective in the elementary years, find themselves ill-equipped to handle the hormones and energy often found among Junior High kids. Some youth leaders focus on reaching un-churched kids from the community; because of this, typical youth programs end up being heavy on games and entertainment and short on in-depth Bible teaching. Many of the service projects that youth groups pursue are really fundraisers for their own retreats and parties.

For some reason, it is rare that I see teenagers held to a high standard of servant leadership. It is no surprise to me that many young people leave the church after high school. For six years they are typically treated to a steady diet of entertainment and self-focus, and then are suddenly dumped, entirely unprepared, into the adult church body. Lacking the maturity to appreciate good Bible teaching and worship, they are also severely atrophied in service, and so (from this consumer mentality) they conclude that the church has nothing for them.

My favorite drama and serve team kids.

My favorite drama and serve team kids.

So I started a Serve and Drama Team as a way to begin building the ‘serve muscles’ among some of the youth (in this case AWANA achievers) of our church. My hope is that our teenagers, with all their passion and energy, could discover their spiritual gifts and be a blessing and an asset to the church.

This is our pilot year. So far, we’ve performed about ten different skits for the Council Time part of AWANA, serving the Sparks and T&T kids (and their leaders) by acting out Bible stories and gospel-illustrating skits. We have also done several service projects, including:

  • Detailing the cars of AWANA leaders
  • Creating gift baskets for the five pastors of our church
  • Providing a tasty snack for the entire choir, at the end of their rehearsal
  • Cleaning and reorganizing the Drama Resource room
  • Writing more than two dozen ‘Thank-You’ cards to church leaders
A pile of thank-you cards, written tonight.

A pile of thank-you cards, written tonight.

My hope is that the best and brightest of the Junior High kids will choose to serve their church and their Lord during these (typically self-absorbed) years. I started by pre-selecting the best kids in our AWANA program. The prerequisite to the Drama and Serve Team is completion of three of the T&T books, which requires a significant level of effort over several years. (I’ll accept a comparable level of effort in scripture memorization, for kids who haven’t been involved in AWANA during their 3rd-5th grade years.)

I hope to equip and inspire these kids to offer their energy, leadership and spiritual gifts to the Church, and to set a challenging standard for the other teenagers in our community.

They sneakily wrote me a note while I was out of the room!

They sneakily wrote me a note while I was out of the room!

I have ten kids in the program, ranging from age 10 9 to 15, and I have to say, they are well on their way to becoming champions. I am very excited at the prospect of preparing them to be the core of the next generation of servant leaders at our church.

Project 365, Day 56

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Sometimes you laugh and delight over the little things. Sometimes you cry and grieve over big things. Life seems to be about big, little, and everything in between. I want to be faithful in what God is calling me to do. I want to be willing to grow, even if is painful and stretching along the way. I want the fact that I am a follower of Jesus to make a difference in what I say, how I say it, what I think, how I act, and how I love/chastise/encourage/walk among the people in my life.

This has been an interesting and challenging two weeks. Today I was grateful for many, many things.

1. Sunshine
2. Prayer time w/friends
3. Hot tea & strong coffee
4. Wise counsel
5. Laughter
6. Teens who are listening to the Lord
7. Children who pray for me
8. A godly husband
9. Peace and direction from the Holy Spirit
10. Late night Winco shopping & friends who (unknowingly) match

I'm thankful for friends who match - even when we didn't both plan to be in purple!

Love that we both ended up wearing purple today!

Project 365 – Day 55

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Conference & Journaling & Kids

We’ve been very blessed to bring David and Sarah with us to this year’s Impact Prayer Seminar. Originally we were going to leave them with friends or grandparents, but things got complicated and other families attending encouraged us to sign David and Sarah up for the conference.

These notebooks are getting FILLED up!

These notebooks are getting FILLED up!

I can only echo what John wrote in 3 John 1:4,

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

What a joy it is to have shared this conference with all of our children over the years. As I sat with David and Sarah in the sanctuary, watching them take notes, listen to the speaker, and concentrate, I was reminded, once again, how blessed we are to have such thoughtful, careful, godly children.

Tim and I have attended this prayer conference many times over the past eight years, so we were more than willing to let David and Sarah be responsible for the note taking job this time. The material ranges from goal setting and time management to the incredible blessings of being a praying leader. This year we’ve especially enjoyed the company of several other church friends and families.

A little search of our blog reveals that we’ve written about the prayer seminar before:

The Lord has taught me many things as I’ve walked this path of godly woman, daughter, wife, mother, sister, friend, mentor, leader, homeschooler. He has greatly enriched my prayer life, humbled me through hardship, blessed me beyond measure, and ALWAYS continues to work in my heart and life.

Journaling with colors is WAY more fun!

Journaling with colors is WAY more fun!

I am still processing, thinking and praying about all we’ve studied and discussed and learned during the two and a half days of the conference. 16 hours of teaching on prayer! More than anything I want to be a Champion for Jesus – honoring Him in my service for His kingdom. I want to delight in Him, bring glory & praise to His name, and be purposeful in my days. This seminar has both challenged me and inspired me. Not to mention, been a bit overwhelming as I contemplate being a good steward of all the Lord has given me – my time, energy, finances, gifts, and talents.

Praying that Tim and I, along with David and Sarah, will leave here with renewed passion for following Jesus. Praying that Joshua, Rachel and Daniel will also find encouragement and a fresh love for Jesus even though they weren’t able to join us.

Project 365 – Day 20

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