Bible Study Method or Madness?

We’ve all done it.  There is that yearly Bible reading plan or latest Beth Moore study and we dig in with earnest sure that we will devote ourselves all the way through to the end.  But then life happens and we tell ourselves that the plan or study doesn’t suit us.  Some time passes and we hear about a new system of study, an online devotional that emails the daily devotion right to our phones, or a book that came out by a favorite author of ours who may not be a Bible teacher but intersperses Scripture throughout the chapters.   We feel spiritual.  Our hearts are warm towards good things like family, the poor, relationships, being industrious, and being culturally savvy.  We support non-profits through our clothing, jewelry, handbags, and coffee.  We are responsible.  We only buy fair trade, and we are well informed.  The only problem is that we are not firmly planted.

A friend gets sick…like cancer sick…

Another friend’s marriage is hanging on by a thread…

We have doubts…we struggle to believe…

Should we take that job?….

How should we discipline our kids?…

The fires in California…

The floods in Louisiana…

And our own longing for answers…for hope.

What will we hold on to?  How will we persevere under trial?  Where will we turn when our world turns upside down?

Simply put.  God’s Word.  The method we use is superfluous.  But when we break open the scriptures as they are with or without studies, tools, resources, commentaries, and drink the pure, spiritual milk of the Word we meet God.  Supplemental aids can help, but they are not necessary, and sometimes they may even be a distraction.

So, my encouragement, dear reader, is to not get overwhelmed with all of the “offerings” out there, nor feel guilty for not completing a study or starting the latest and greatest “hot off the press” workbook from that Christian publisher.  It is okay.  Just open your Bible.  Breathe it in and digest its truth.  Let it fill your thoughts and flow from your mouth.  If this is all you have time for…if this is all you do, then this is enough, because after all, the system is not what grows you anyway.  God and His Word is enough.  Walk in faith and freedom today.  And just read your Bible.

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12

Weekend Wrap-Up 8/13

Sometimes weekends are meant for celebrating.  Sometimes after a week of pushing and hustling, giving it your all, a weekend in the best sense is in order.  Many weekends are meant for errands (we had those too today) and playing catch up on a week that went by too fast (there are those often as well), but for us this weekend was a time to be together and just have some simple fun.

We closed the books and said goodbye to the first week of school and hit the pool!

FullSizeRender (12)

We had a yummy dinner at Swaney Swift’s and ice cream at the Town Square Creamery on Friday night.  And then we went to Lowes and got some sand for the kids’ new sandbox.

They spent the greater part of the day here.  Sand everywhere.  I’ll be washing sand out of their hair for weeks.

IMG_4603

 

Some highlights from this week for us were…

Kara started back with piano lessons, and we found a really neat studio on the square in Gallatin.  The bonus was the owner’s dog who became good buds with Jud right away.  Here Jud is playing fetch with his new friend.   We plan to get a dog once we get settled.  Sand, dog hair, eh who cares?

IMG_4591

The girls learned about Impressionism looking at Mary Cassatt’s “Five O’Clock Tea” for inspiration.  Jud even got in on the action.  I wasn’t planning on him jumping up to the table, but once he saw paint and the opportunity to make a mess there was no stopping him.  He did surprisingly well, and the paint washed off.  I find that the Crayola washable paint comes out better than the Crayola washable markers.  The kids always have marker on them even after several washings.  As I type this Analise is sound asleep with green marker on the palm of one of her hands, and this is after a fairly long bath she had tonight.

IMG_4571

 

IMG_4576
Kara did an impressionist painting of a girl sitting against a tree blowing bubble gum while looking at her house.

 

 

IMG_4577
Analise did a literal impression of herself as a cat. 

 

 

Not everything is idyllic.  There are the dirty dishes…there seems to always be dirty dishes.  And the floors are never swept enough.  There is yelling at times.  Mom yells at times…trying to work on that.  We are not always motivated.  But I marvel at how God intercepts the chaos with His peace.  He does that.  Even with a toddler who won’t nap (Jud today), sandy floors, an unfinished to-do list (always incomplete), and dealing with physical limitations like illnesses, hormones, our humanity- God comes in and shows up.  He gives us His yoke and teaches us to rest.  Anything he gives is easy and light.  We are the ones who overwhelm the whole business of life.  “Oh I can do it.”  “I can handle it.”  Until I realize that I can’t handle it and then I become anxious or depressed while God was here available and able to supply what was needed all along- Himself.

What I’m into this week…

Mere Motherhood.  Great book.  I’m reading it along with some other moms who homeschool. This book is is a good read for any mom, really.  Cindy Rollins (author) is a seasoned and wise mother who is humble and honest about nurturing a Christian home.

Digize.  This is a Young Living Essential Oil blend used to support digestive health.  I have had some heartburn this week, and really off and on throughout the summer, but this oil has helped alleviate a lot of the discomfort.

Hooked on Consignment.  This is a sale I just heard about and took advantage of this morning.  I racked up for Judson’s fall/winter wardrobe.  The sale goes on twice a year, and I plan on going back in the spring.

Placemaking.  Ooo I just love this whole concept and discussion on Tsh Oxenreider’s podcast.  I resonated with it being that I just moved to a new place myself.  For awhile now I have envisioned home as something you create, not necessarily some specific place you belong.  Worth a listen.

Well, that’s a wrap for now.  Hope that your weekend, wherever and however it finds you is nourishing to your soul.  Connect with your church community.  Take a walk.  Take a nap.  Eat something good.  Breathe.  And remember that the to-do list will get done…just not today.🙂

 

 

 

 

Ready Or Not

 

 

FullSizeRender (10)So I blinked and summer came and went.  To be honest, the days leading up to the first day back to school have not been without some jitters.  We are still settling into a new place, a new “normal,” and doing what came so natural to us (or at least felt natural) like morning time, recitations, nature walks, and the like have gone by the wayside except for read aloud time, which we’ve managed to squeeze in either after lunch or before bed.  So, going from steady flow (not without its occasional chaotic current) to free-for-all survival mode summer back into a steady flow begs the question- can this be done?!  I mean, between the boxes, screens, late nights, every which way weekdays with a distracted and busy mama and daddy can we ever get back to normal?

Well, we are trying.

And for a first attempt, I must say that today felt refreshing and the Lord gave us peace as only He can give.

The day began early.  There were chores.  But there were also donuts.  So, mom for the win!  This song is our signal this year for morning time.  It is our school bell, so to speak.  The girls hear this and know they have 3ish minutes to finish their spiral notebooks and meet up at the kitchen table.

IMG_4538

We then pray, sing, hear from God’s Word, recite Scripture, practice memory work, read poetry, and do a simple nature study.  Some days there will be art study, history, and even beginning this year a little Shakespeare.  I try and keep things simple and not do too much in the girls’ day.  I feel like today was just enough for a first day back at it.  Anymore than what we did would have been overkill I’m sure.  I budgeted an hour for morning time and we were right at it this morning.  It went by so fast.

We take about a fifteen minute break after morning time to stretch, grab a mid-morning snack, restroom break, and put our morning materials away.  I have a morning basket with books and resources for that time, so I just move it out of the way, or even out of the room.

IMG_4540                                              IMG_4536

 

This is the first year that I am homeschooling both girls, although Analise doesn’t officially begin Kindergarten until next fall.  She is just ready to do “school.”  So, I got her a light and gentle Junior Kindergarten curriculum for her to work on while Kara completes her lessons.  I wasn’t sure how it would be working in tandem between both girls, and there were times when I really had to help one (like Analise with pencil grip, or Kara with a new spelling word list) over the other, but they both did quite well.  And Judson?  Well, we just keep him busy.  Analise helped him with stickers.  I gave him some big shape magnets to play with.  He watched Thomas & Friends.  He had a bowl of dry cereal.  He spilled half the bowl onto the living room floor.  A quick sweep, and all was picked up until the next spill.

IMG_4546

After spelling, reading, arithmetic, and handwriting, we put the books away and headed outside.  Well, the kids did anyway.  I had about 15-20 minutes of quiet to clean up and get ready for lunch.  I gave the kids some water guns to cool themselves off with, but even still, the heat got the best of them and they made their way back inside before lunch.  We drank smoothies, ate some cold deli meat and cheese, listened to Winnie-the-Pooh on audio read by Peter Dennis, and read some from These Happy Golden Years.  I think school wore Judson out because he crashed at nap time!

I got the girls each a bird feeder to paint a few weeks ago so that they would have a fun project to do one afternoon so I could get some unpacking done.  This afternoon we filled them with birdseed and hung them from a tree on the side of our yard.  The kids got a little excited and decided to throw seeds out towards the woods hoping to make it a little easier for the birds to find their food.  Analise then grabbed my phone and took a picture of a ladybug.

IMG_4555                            IMG_4558

unnamed

It was a good first day.  In a couple weeks we will start back with Classical Conversations, which we are all looking forward to.  I was thankful that there was a community here in the Gallatin/Hendersonville area.  Analise begins CC officially this year, and she is pumped and ready.  I will tutor the older class this year, which will be a new and welcomed challenge.

I am claiming Proverbs 31:26 as my  verse for this year, which says, “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.”  I can be so hasty with my words and quick-tempered, and my kids are easy targets.  It’s not about what I teach, but how I teach.  It’s not about doling out truth, but speaking the truth in love.  It’s not about completing daily tasks, or checking off a list.  It’s about connecting to the hearts of my kids and worshiping the Lord together.

So I am praying for wisdom- to know wisdom, grow in wisdom, and speak wisdom in my home first and foremost.  I am praying for kindness- to not be harsh with my attitude and words, to give grace when it is needed, and to touch and listen.  I have one child who needs a lot of physical affection and another who has lots of questions and deep thoughts (we have the best bedtime chats).  I cannot be the perfect mom, and I dare not try.  But I can pray to grow to be a mother who honors the Lord in her home- as both wife and mother, not displacing one role over the other.

So ready or not, the first day came and is passed.  I am now sitting on  bleachers watching my girls tumble in gymnastics, reflecting on the day, trying not to think too much about tomorrow knowing that these days pass all too quickly.

 

FullSizeRender (11)                unnamed (1)

 

Weekend Wrap-Up

It has been somewhat of a rainy week here in Middle Tennessee.  In many ways I am thankful for it.  For one thing, the earth needs the rain.  (Although the grass grows more quickly, and wasn’t it like yesterday when Travis mowed the lawn?)  Another thing is that the rain has kept us in the house some this week making it convenient for me to get some needed things done like setting up the house some more and lesson planning.  School begins for us in a week.  This is how our summer has been- last day of school, pack up the house, move, unpack and set up the house, and then the beginning of a new school year.  Whew!  It has been a good summer, though.  We are feeling at home in Gallatin more and more each day.🙂

So this weekend is in a way one of the last “quiet” weekends for us.  I feel like the turnaround from Friday to Monday is like a blink in a sandstorm.  But I wouldn’t change a thing.  Honestly, I am ready to get my kids back into a routine.  They don’t know which end is up, and on some days neither do I.  It’s all about survival around here, folks!  Getting back into our rhythm will be a good thing and will hopefully bring a little sanity to our family life.

Some things that I am digging lately are…

This body lotion.  The summer heat has wreaked havoc on my hands, so when I found a BOGO on these from Ulta, I had to give them a try.  These lotions have been handy when I don’t do a coconut oil and an essential oil blend.

Roku and Sling.  We don’t have cable, and we cannot seem to get a good signal on our antennae for local channels, so when we found a deal for a free Roku with 3-month pre-paid subscription we took it.  I like how we can select which programs we want to watch without paying for channels that we don’t use.

Kroger Clicklist.  I didn’t know such a thing existed until recently- where was this when I had newborns?!  Anyway, basically it is a service some Kroger stores offer where you set up your shopping list online and order your groceries in advance to be picked up curbside (I mean they even load the groceries for you!) at a specified date and time.  There is a small service charge of $4.95 after the first three ClickList orders, but the pay off of a stress-free shopping experience without wrangling three small children through aisle after aisle in a grocery store is so worth it!

This book.  Talk about enlightening.  I have just gotten into it and have been meaning to read it for some time, but now that I am I can’t put it down.  I was up past midnight reading it last night.  The stories, the history, and the ramifications of the great migration of blacks from America’s south provides some understanding on urbanism, the black community, and the pervasive effects of racial injustice from Jim Crow days to modern day.  I may have more to say after I finish the book, but so far, as a white woman, I find this to be a helpful education on a community of people who are my neighbors and fellow Americans.  And I must say it is beautifully written.

I am hoping to have a productive week this week as we get ready for another school year. The clothes and supplies are bought.  The house is in somewhat of a working and livable condition.  And I think we have had about as much unstructured time as we can handle.  So…

Here’s to another week of reckless freedom!  Reality will kick back into gear in seven more days.  Hope your week, however structured or free it may be goes well for you.  🙂

 

 

The Terrific Thing About The Terrible Twos

IMG_4482 (1)

I feel it coming.  The onslaught of wild, reckless, compulsive energy like a tidal wave upon still shores.  By this I mean that my son will be two in less than two months.  And a sensor must be going off, because he is a two-year old in the making in the best and worst ways.

Since the big move, Jud has managed to….

  • Tumble out of his crib (the “plan” was to wait for at least month before transferring him to a toddler bed to help ease him through the transition…the “plan” was shifted to two weeks earlier)
  • Run out of the house (he figured out how to open our back door that leads into the garage.  Travis was on his riding mower!  So quick-thinking Kara ran upstairs to get me where I was taking a shower and I ran outside while wrapped in a towel to grab Judson.  He was fine and barely made it out of the garage.  My pride was not fine however as the fencing installation guys just showed up at the house.  Safe son.  Embarrassed mama.  Thankfully, we can lock that back door keeping him out of trouble and me from scaring the neighbors)
  • Pull a 3-shelf corner stand on himself (He tried to climb it, I’m assuming.  He was in the mudroom while we were in other parts of the house.  I think he banged his head, but it didn’t harm him too much.  We got rid of that stand- not worth it)
  • Scribble on a new chair with purple marker (The girls were coloring and Jud snuck a marker down from the table and got all Jackson Pollock on an upholstered chair)
  • Pull out all of the door stoppers in our house while biting off the white plastic tips (I’ve pulled at least two of the said tips out of Jud’s mouth.  So now we have removed all of the door stoppers making it only a matter of time before Travis will have to patch holes in the walls.  But at least we will not have to worry about our son choking on hardware)

Whew.

You know that verse in Scripture about how their angels see God’s face (speaking of little children)?  Well, I believe that two-year old boys have a legion of angels watching over them.  It is by the grace of God that they make it through toddlerhood!  And I consider myself a “watchful” mother…borderline helicopter mom.  I can’t imagine what would happen to this kid if I let him loose!

Not everything is so terrible, though.  There are some terrific things about the twos.  Like…

  • Hugs and Kisses (this boy is a smoocher and gives fully-surrendered, warm you through and through hugs)
  • Words (not everyone can understand him, but I know what he is saying.  “shereel”- cereal, “mo”- more, “THIS!”- sippy cup, “baf”- bath, “banay”- banana, “guk”- truck, “bagetba”- basketball, “choo choo”- train, “soos”- shoes.
  • Construction vehicles and balls (he absolutely goes bonkers when he sees any sort of truck or tractor on the road or in a field, and basketball goals are like historic monuments for Jud with pointing and shouting every morning in the van while we drive down our street)
  • Morning snuggles (sometimes this is 3am snuggles, but still.  He greets us with arms high in the air saying “Up! Up!” and I get my morning Jud time.

 

I read a blog this morning by Sally Clarkson who I deeply respect, and she remarked how we are often in a season of waiting as young moms- waiting for other aspirations to come to fruition- and how often our dreams unfold slowly over the course of a lifetime and that though waiting is hard “I [Sally] have learned that if I am to thrive personally, in ministry, in marriage, in physical health, I have to keep the center priorities at the center and do the other things little by little…In my own personal experience, dreams take a lifetime. But messages of integrity come through years of being faithful to our priorities, years of living a true life so that truth can be written from experience and wisdom, and not just from desire. ”  Read the rest here.  I received a sweet note yesterday from an older woman from our former church who encouraged me in a similar way.  Waiting is worth it.

He won’t be two forever. (grace upon grace)  As they say the days are long, but the years are short.  I am more convinced that a mother’s prayers (along with a good night’s sleep and strong coffee) are what carries all of us through…mama, hubby, and the kids…all of us.  Because I sure don’t have it in me…the endurance, patience, courage, etc.  But I can pray…feeble prayers, fatigued prayers, and often frantic prayers, but prayers nonetheless that God hears, believing by faith that the Spirit and the Son intercedes for weary mothers like me. On the days when I fail.  On the days when I feel overwhelmed.  And on the days when I think I can handle it all on my own.  He knows and understands.

So, if you have a terrific and terrible two-year old, a newborn, a teenager, a grown child, or anyone in-between, never doubt the power of prayer- of persistent, until we see God move in the lives of our kids prayer.  My mother still prays for me, and I need her prayers every day.  Let’s not give up interceding for those most precious to us, because we all have One who never fails to intercede for us.  We can make it.  We are going to make it.  There may be bumps and bruises with an occasional visit to the E.R. on the way, but we are going to make it.  Because He who began a good work in you…in your children…in your spouse…in your church…WILL bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus (Phil. 1:6).

 

 

Just The Facts, Mam!

10945636_627188932958_6987980102339599292_n

We were without Wifi for about a month since our big move, so we extended our data usage to a bagilillion gigabytes in order to stay connected with the outside world.  This included a FaceTime conversation with my mother that was ended abruptly when my financially conservative hubby told me to end the call because it was running up the data.  You can imagine how well that went over.

Besides FaceTime, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and all of the socially connected mediums, I wanted to stay connected with the news.  And what an unfortunate month for news.  A quick glance at my feed on Facebook did not do justice for me with the news of the day.  Because I have both conservative and moderate friends, and I follow both conservative and moderate blogs with differeing and biased perspectives.  I wanted “just the facts, mam.”

Sidebar.  Do people still get the paper?  Like the good, old fashioned, black print, finger staining newspaper?  I could have used one last month.

Anyway, I did manage to scroll through some online “papers” to get informed on the issues of the day, skimming and speed reading through the headlines mostly.  I found an app on my phone that I downloaded at some point but had yet to use, and it came in handy during my “limited data” month.  It is called Feedly.  Basically, it is a tool to manage and organize regularly visited content such as blogs, webzines, news sites, etc.  It is becoming my “go-to” method for getting information quickly and efficiently.

Because social media is social, not informational.  Sure, you get information but it is filtered through opinions, biases, agendas, and platforms.  Sometimes, you just want the news.  Am I right?  Some of my favorite sources for quick news- meaning, the headlines and top stories and easily accessed, are USA Today, The Washington Post, and The Atlantic.  Sure, every news source has its biased bent one way or another, but I find it easier to filter through the news myself rather than through social media’s opinions on the news.  Less noise means less distraction from the facts.

So now that I am back online I can take my time through the news of the day and I can be better informed on how to pray for our nation, its leaders, and the world.  And my husband and I do not have to ration data like the last bowl of soup on the coldest day of the year. 🙂

 

Build the Wall

Image result for brick wall

There is a little unspoken secret that all mothers share and that is that we really don’t know what we are doing.  Sure we read the books, follow certain methods, implement schedules and routines, but at the end of the day when we find a cog in our wheel of control we shrug our shoulders, hands in our laps and cry “Uncle!”  Because the only certain thing that we do know is that we are called to this life of motherhood.  We have children, so therefore we are called to them- to love them, nurture them, nourish them, and raise them in the fear and admonition of the Lord.

Nehemiah had a calling too.  God commissioned and compelled him for the task of rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem.  He gave himself to this task, seeking the Lord through every step of the process.  Though he wasn’t a mother, Nehemiah experienced what every mother will experience at some point in her ministry at home- opposition.

How are we opposed?

The world opposes us.  The Christian mom is countercultural in how she instructs her children.  Her manual is God’s Word, not pop psychology, marriage amendments, 3rd wave feminist ideology, or the blog of the day.  She is building a wall.  Her task is to raise a generation who know Christ and will make Him known.

Some in the church may oppose us.  “You can’t work and raise a family!” or “So, you stay home all day.  I couldn’t be with my kids all day.  I would go crazy!” or “You let him cry it out?  That is so cruel!” or “Co-sleeping?  Well, that is a recipe for a visit to the psychiatrist’s office.”  or “You mean to say that you spank your child?” or “That child is out of control because he is never spanked.”  We have a “godly” plan for how we “know” God would have us raise our family and every family should follow suit.  We distract each other with our “proven” methods (sidebar…none of us have a proven track record yet, so we have very little credit to go by) while discouraging each other on our common mission to raise the next generation for Christ.

When Nehemiah was opposed, he didn’t cower or hang his head in shame.  He prayed.  “Hear, O our God, for we are despised. (Nehemiah 4:4)”  He didn’t stop there, though.  After Nehemiah prayed he got back to work.  “So we built the wall.”

Moms, let’s build the wall.  When the enemy (our real enemy is the devil, and he will use whatever he can to discourage and distract us) comes in to keep us from the task at hand, then we must pray and then get back to work.  I think about Jesus’ disciple Peter and how he was concerned about John and whether or not he would remain until Jesus’ return.  Jesus said, “What is that to you?  You follow me!”  Instead of looking at the world, or other moms and what they are doing we must follow Jesus with how He has specifically engineered our calling.  Some of us are teachers, some are business execs, some are involved in Multi-Level-Marketing, some of us are homeschoolers, some of us are single moms, and some of us are doing a host of other things, but the one universal thing that we all must do is like Nehemiah, “to have a mind to work.”  Not worry.  Not compare.  Not compete.  Work.  The task is that great, and we do not have time to come down from our wall.

Nehemiah encouraged the workers on the wall, so let me encourage my fellow wall builder mamas.  “Do not be afraid of them. (4:14)”  Who is the “them” in your life?  It may be a family member, a co-worker, a neighbor, or somebody else who is discouraging you from building your wall.  How can we keep from fear?  Nehemiah said, “Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome…”  He is greater than our fear and those who oppose us.  If God has called you to this task of motherhood, He will enable you for it.  Don’t let anyone or anything incite fear or doubt in your heart and mind.  What we need is boldness and decisiveness to complete the task given to us.  So, Nehemiah said, “Do not be afraid, remember the Lord, and finally, “fight for your brothers, your sons, your daugthers, your wives, and your homes.”  We must fight for our homes, moms.  In my previous post I mentioned how this battle we wage is not against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual forces in this present darkness (see Ephesians 6).  When we look to the Lord, remembering His might and that He is for us- and oh Christian mom, how he is for us!- we are emboldend to fight, to pray deep, from the gut prayers, and to work.  The work is great indeed, but mamas, “Our God will fight for us. (4:20).