Favorite "Meditation of My Heart"

Call unto me,

and I will answer thee,

and shew thee great and mighty things,

which thou knowest not. --Jeremiah 33:3 KJV

Friday, August 31, 2012

Building a Strong Christian Home ( MY Step 3)

There really isn't a step 3, but from my own experience I have a step 3.  Many Christians start growing and learning and loving and....then something terrible happens in their life or the life of someone close to them.  It might be the loss of a loved one, divorce, losing a job, illness or any number of terrible things.  There is always the temptation to ask, "Why me?  Why us?  Why now?"  Many Christians believe that only good things should happen to us once we are in this close relationship with God.  Others feel that God owes them a sheltered life in return for their faithfulness.  In reality, God eventually uses all the problems for good.  It tells us in Romans 8:28, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."  ALL things...not all good things...ALL things!

A prayer that I found on facebook.  An example of a
blanket prayer to try to avoid the tough parts
of the journey.
I don't fully understand it, but I believe suffering/difficulties/hurting help mold us into being more like Christ....more compasionate, more understanding and more willing to sacrafice for others.  After Steve Saint had his accident, he said in an interview, "That's exactly the lie that everyone tends to fall into. That the ideal life is the easy life. It isn't so....the only sure way to maturity is through pain." 

I truly believe James 1:2-4, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."  Joy is defined in Webster's as "the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune".   Gladness is a synonym for joy.  Many people have asked me how I stay so positive or in plain terms, "what are you so happy about?"  People look at what they think is my defining condition(s)...physically disabled, overworked mother, medically involved children, financial stress, etc and are amazed by my joy based on these negative conditions.  However, what people miss is that my joy is in the journey of following God's plan for my life, not in my condition!   God has brought me to places that I didn't want to go to see needs that I didn't want to see and to feel pain that I didn't want to feel so I could be prepared for future trials, failures and success. 

When I see one of my kids like Vanessa just loving life, my joy grows because I can point to really tough times in my journey that brought me to the point that I was prepared to be her mom.  I am so honored that God chose me to suffer some unique pains/challenges so I could be ready to be a big a part of  each of my amazing kids' lives!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Building a Strong Christian Home (Step 2)

2. Be a disciple of Christ.

The learning process after becoming a Christian is called discipleship. This is Step 2 in building a strong Christian home.  If you look up disciple in a dictionary, some inaccurately list the definition as someone who guides others to Christ.  The reason I say that is inaccurate is because it is only a part of being a disciple.  I think words like student or apprentice are much better to describe this 2nd aspect of building a strong Christian home.  I personally love the word "apprentice" because to me it indicates learning through activity while to me a student learns through lectures.  In being a disciple, there are no boring lessons.  There are amazing new revelations.  I can be struggling and praying over a problem and read a verse that I have read many times and perhaps even memorized and it suddenly has a new truth to me in my situation.

Therefore, discipleship is learning about Jesus and to be like Jesus and to understand His commandments for us all (Matthew 22:36-40) and to begin the process of recognizing His special plan for our individual life.  This is a process of making Jesus the author of our life.  You may be saying, God has never given me clear enough messages to determine my career, relationships or financial choices.  In fact you may be thinking, its all in my mind or I have some strange mental illness with delusions of a cell phone to God.  However, I assure you, if you seek God's guidance, He will give it.

When seeking God's direction in your life, there are a variety of things that you can do to make it easier for God to communicate to you and your family.
1.  Read the Bible often.  At least daily.  Many web sites like http://odb.org/ have daily devotions (stories of how the Bible applies) and scripture readings free for you each day.  Some even read aloud to you so you can put them on your MP3player!
2.  Memorize scripture.  Matthew 22:36-40 is a great scripture to start with.  By memorizing scripture, God can bring guiding scriptures into your daily struggles even when you're not reading the Bible.
3.  Pray often.  It only takes a moment to pray.  Sometimes my prayer is just, "Help me".  Other times that I sit aside, I can pray longer and bring my sins, worries, requests/petitions to Jesus in full explanation.  The key is to be frequently praying and seeking God's direction.
4.  Locate other believers...I'm a bit hesitant to include this because if other "apprentices" start telling you things that you can't find in scripture, then they are not a benefit to you and may even discourage you.  Today's Christians meet in homes, tea rooms, rented meeting rooms and churches so finding a loving group to encourage you and your family in loving the Lord is easier than ever.  You can even start your own group of believers.
5. Create a consistent environment of Biblical education.  Children need the great stories of the Bible to begin to understand the character of God.  Places like http://www.cbhministries.org/ have great free resources to teach your kids what God values right from the Bible.

    Thursday, August 16, 2012

    Building a Strong Christian Home (Step 1)

    As I promised, a blog on how to build a strong Christian home based on my experience and Biblical understanding. Here are the essential components for building a strong Christian home.  By the way, if you are single, this applies to you too.  I have had  a strongly held personal belief since I was about 18 that a single person is a unique family of one.  I personally wasn't waiting to build a Christian home environment for when I had a husband or kids.  The truths below are from the Bible and are applicable to a family of 1 or a mega family of 21+.

    To build a strong Christian family the following is needed:

    1.  There MUST be at least one adult Christian:  I'm not being flip or funny.  Its just that it is impossible to have a Christian home without at least one Christian adult. 

     So what makes one a Christian? 
    • Believing that God exists? Nope!  Even Satan believes that God exists.
    • Trying to be a good person?  Sorry!
    • Living a life a sacrifice?  No...that is not it. 
    • Loving everyone?  Umm...good luck with that...but no.
    • Living at peace as much as is possible?  Afraid not.
    • Doing more good than bad?  No, not a Christian, even if the scale is loaded with lots of good!
    According to the Bible, none of us are perfect enough to be in a relationship with the holy God.  It is a bit like when our own children get dirty playing in the mud that they weren't supposed to go near.  We love them, BUT while they are muddy we probably aren't going to hug them tightly or invite them into our formal dining room until we get the mud cleaned off.  We don't love our children less because they got muddy! And God doesn't love the saint (forgiven cleaned up sinner) more than the sinner!  God simply cannot enjoy a full relationship with us until the sin is out of the way.  However, like our children will need our help to get clean, we ALL need God's help to get rid of sin that is keeping us from a close relationship with Him. 

    In I John 1:9, the Bible says, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."  The "He" in this verse is Jesus.  If we tell Jesus that we want forgiveness, believing in His power and authority to cleanse us, then we can be pure.  Completely pure and able to have a relationship with the Holy God.

    In Romans 10:9 reinforces this simple path to being rescued from our sin, "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in thine heart that God has raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." 

    You may be wondering how does someone ask God for forgiveness. Do you put it in a letter? Do you do something in return for Him forgiving you?  Do you need a minister?  The simple answer is you just pray to Him.  You can just talk with Him in your mind or right out loud.  He sees our thought and intents of our hearts so even if you pray silently in your mind, God hears and forgives!  There is no price to you. You couldn't earn this type of pure relationship. There are no special words.  Its just you being honest and humble before an awesome God who already loves you, but wants to clean you up so you can know Him better.  If you haven't done this before, you can even do it right now!  That is the most awesome thing about God, no prerequisites, no appointment needed, no special words...its just you and Him getting started on a loving long term relationship.
    So after we ask forgiveness, does this mean that we will never sin again?  No!  In fact when I was a new Christian as a young person I didn't even understand many of the sins that I would commit along the way as I grew in my faith and maturity.  I would need to keep confessing my sin and learning about what is sin and what isn't and what my God expected of me.  This learning process is often called discipleship.  This is Step 2 in building a strong Christian home.  I'll discuss it in my next blog entry.

    BTW-If the term Christian is offensive to you because of "Christians" you have met, then I have good news for you.  Jesus never called his followers Christians!  Christian is not God's word for us!  In the Bible, words like follower of Christ or believers were used.  You can have a relationship with Christ and reject the World's label!  As long as you don't reject Jesus in your description, you have great freedom in how you describe your new awesome relationship with God.

    Friday, August 10, 2012

    BIG Bad Cyber-Bully Mommy Bloggers

    I have had my fill of it!  I can't stand to read another blog article by a "lovely Christian mom" who would probably never say a harsh word to a friend, BUT who feels loosened, compelled and perhaps God ordained to blog harsh criticisms telling other Christian mom's how to do things right.  I'm not talking about scriptural based advice or heart touching stories of how things work for them.  I'm talking about personal bias and opinions being passed on by Christian women as more important to share than the Gospel of Jesus Christ!  For some reason, encouraging each other in the Word has fallen out of blogging style.  Now, my disgust IS with expert Christian moms slamming life paths of others and professing to know God's best direction for ALL Christians.  Furthermore, they make it sound like not following THEM will destroy a Christian family.  

    In case you haven't had the pleasure of reading some of this unloving, paranoid propaganda, let me summarize the issues that Cyber-bullies know will ruin your Christian home.  Some are the following:
    • not having a home birth
    • not breastfeeding  
    • not homeschooling every child in your home (& no one writes a better persuasive blog than a home school mom...we teach persuasive writing!)
    • working outside the home
    • squandering money by getting a tattoo or piercing
    • using day care or preschool
    • letting government services in your life/home (like early intervention therapists, Parents As Teachers or WIC)
    • letting your older children date or pick their mate
    • studying world religions, philosophy or learning about other cultures
    • and not disciplining your child with swats
    I must disclose for the sake of honesty that I am a home school mom.  I work from home. I don't have money for tattoos or cruises and I hate the pain of needles.  I'm not saying there aren't good ideas for some people in the list above.  However, to present the ideas as being superior or inferior in the Christian walk is to deny God His proper place as Lord of our lives.  We as Christians are not all called to the same purpose in the "body of Christ".  1 Corinthians 12 covers this better than I can.

    I do think certain things work well for our family such as crock pot meals, owning a bus, and not having credit cards.  However, the most important "thing" in our home is to be submitted to God and living a lifestyle that He has called us to, which is set apart from non-Christians.  Hopefully this set apart lifestyle is recognizable by our love for the Lord our God and others...ALL others. 

    When I see these "preaching rants" on subjects like the ones above, it makes me sad because I can name the Christian women who upon reading these posts might feel discouraged, defeated or even doubt the path that God has placed them on.  It makes me think of  Proverbs 3:6 and Psalms 119:24. 

    I'm going to blog in the future on what makes a strong Christian home.  My blog will be based on my own experiences, short comings and understandings of scripture.  As a fair warning, none of the bulleted items listed are on my list....nor will you be required to start using a crock pot, buy a bus or shred your credit cards.

    For he that will love life,
     and see good days,
    let him refrain his tongue from evil,
    and his lips that they speak no guile
    ~~I Peter 3:10

    Wednesday, August 8, 2012

    Stay-cation Trip 4: Finally!

    Well, this past weekend we finally completed Stay-cation number 4 by going to the farm.  Two of our previous weeks Stay-cations were cancelled due to changes in doctor appointments and an adoption court date.  We are hoping to do a couple more trips this Fall to make up for the fun that had to be cancelled.

    However, this final big outing of Summer was a great time away for three days and two nights.  Our helpers Amber & Angela went with us and everyone had a wonderful, but exhausting time.  We came home Sunday night, and Nate slept until 1pm on Monday afternoon!  They all played hard!

    On the way to the farm, Angela and Amber showed them how a Yakov brochure can be entertaining.

    Then Saturday the extended family was at the farm and the kids played with cousins, ate, rode horses, ate, swam, ate, took a trip to Ava Drug*, played with the dogs and finally watched the film "The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry" and ate popcorn before bed.  (A few girls stayed up and watched an episode of the Waltons.)

    Sunday was more of the same fun for the kids and their cousins, while we cleaned up the house and did the laundry/bedding.  We finally headed home later than planned. 

    We stopped for dinner at Pasta Express.  Mr. Workman and I had not ate there in years and they have recently started opening new locations in Springfield again.  The long ago closed, Drury College location is where we had our first meal after we were married...so "kinda romantic"...well, as romantic as cheap Italian can be!  The kids loved it and it was VERY affordable!  Feed 14 with leftovers and everyone was full for $74 plus we had salads, some sodas (usually we all get water), rolls, toasted ravioli and pizza plus entrees so YES, we REALLY splurged!

    *No trip "home" to the farm is complete without a trip to the Drug Store for a dime or nickel ice cream.  Check out their web site and read the history.  Its a great little place if you're in Ava, MO!  We had double scoop cones and dishes and some sodas.  I was the big spender with a $.75 tea.  Our total for 13 people was $2.25!  Plus the jukebox is still 3 classic fifties songs on vinyl for a quarter!  You'll love it as much as we do if you stop by!

    Now our summer trips are done.  School starts next week and we have four doctor appointments (over 800 miles to go) before the first day of school.  We'll be busy!  However, so much to be thankful to God for this summer...including a bus with a lift and great memories!

    (These pictures are great so you know Angela Covington took them.  Check out her note cards and other great stuff at http://www.artfire.com/ext/shop/studio/LaMarie)

    $150.00 of diesel
    $    2.25 ice cream
    $  74.00 dinner out
    $226.25 TOTAL or $16.16 each