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A Duet:  A composition between two people: Let it be of love and a relationship webbed tight like our DNA.

She is four. I look at her and I see the blank slate…I see the purity and innocence of a good and perfect gift, untouched and untainted by the world. She is a child, and so she rushes through life with unbound joy, with little fear, experiencing, trying to stretch the boundaries.

I am to be her guide as she shines her light on this world and her guide, as also, in time, this world threatens to swallow her whole with all of its darkness. No small task.

What if I fail?

She watches me. Her eyes follow as I teach her and her reactions apply what I have modeled. We are symbiotic: she brings me the greatest of joys and I clumsily scuff out the misbehavior, the strong-willed leanings of a four year old, helping her to learn His love, extending her all of mine.

Is there enough? Enough in all that I show her…teach her. I am to her, the teacher and the doer of The Word, the mother whose primary task is to love her unconditionally.

I want to protect her always. I want to shield her from all the darkness because I know for her to pierce through she will have to walk through it…the darkness of the world. When she is called out I will have to trust because it will not be for me to be the bushel that hides her lamp.

My life finds me rushing…always running to the next thing. She is my oldest and I sling responsibilities and expectations at her. I’m afraid of missing our duet…the story that she and I are supposed to be creating together. My loving her never stops, but its cultivation often gets swept aside …making room for other urgent, time devouring needs. So how can I make time to be the best part of her life song that I can be?

For now,

It is making the time to know her. I want to encourage and love her developing personality: take an interest in her interests…my four year old dinosaur loving girl.

It is affirming her qualities of excellence…she is the best big sister to her baby sister that she can possibly be, and to encourage her developing qualities. She needs to be positively praised…to hear me say it.

I want to build her confidence…teaching her she doesn’t have to conform to fit and that she is precious in both His sight and in mine.

It is for her to see me putting my faith into action. She needs to see me doing the right and Godly things. She needs to see me be a servant.

It is for me to be patient with her. It is too easy for me to make her my battering ram…she is the oldest and somehow that makes her a target for my impatience.

It is for me to use wisdom as I train her. This one takes me crying out daily as I struggle to find discipline tailored to each child and their needs.

It is for me to share her life song…to take time for the afternoon tea party she asked me for, to listen to her story, to play baby dolls with her, to make her feel as special as she really is.

This is all just a reminder to myself to remember to take the time and not to miss out on our time…time that slips away so fast. A reminder to be the mother who guides her daughter as she begins composing her song so that as time passes the life-words that fill up her slate are words such as these…

Christ, Servant, Love, Faith, Humility, Courage, Forgiveness

May the words of her life be a love song to Him.

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Our afternoon tea party.

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My just turned two year old son calls Santa Clause something that comes out like, “Nanny Bots.” So cute. He loves the big bellied, jolly old man.

Both of my young children are so enthusiastic and cute about Christmas this year…probably the first they have been old enough to really understand and enjoy. They helped put up the tree, make all the goodies, set out decorations and even wrap some presents.

Myself. I love Christmas and I do like Santa Clause. I love the charm, sweetness and magical joy he represents. The thing is, I teach my kids that he isn’t real, instead that he is pretend like a fairy tale.

I love the Christmas tree, the heirloom ornaments, the beauty of it, the joy of putting it up with my children. But what does the tree represent exactly? How does it bring honor to Christ during a time of celebrating His birth?

The gift giving. This is probably my favorite part of Christmas. I love shopping for just the right gift to wrap and tuck under the tree, to be opened and enjoyed by the people I love most  before the sun rises on Christmas morning. For a child, it’s hard to beat the thrill of all the presents under the tree. Whether or not we teach that Santa brought them, what a magical and joyous time for children. But how does giving and receiving gifts help them remember Christ?

I do celebrate Christmas. There is hardly a time of year that I enjoy more. I do, however, understand why many don’t celebrate, as is the choice of several sweet families and friends that I know and love dearly.

Here is why I understand their hesitation and have questions of my own: no matter how much I teach my youngsters about the meaning of Christmas being about the birth of Jesus they still learn how to say “Santa Clause” before they voice the name of our Savior.

We all realize how Christmas is commercialized. Businesses thrive as shoppers flock to their wares. Parents spend small fortunes on purchasing just the right toys for their kids. Decorations go up symbolizing Santa as the head figure of the holiday. We overeat, and all the while our children are absorbing everything, much like snow absorbs the sweet syrup when we make our snow ice cream.

The question is, how do we celebrate Christmas and keep Jesus as the focus during our festivities?

I don’t claim to have this all figured out. My own kids often lack in focus and remembrance and there is no one more at fault than myself in spite of my efforts. After all, they learn what I model and teach them.

Here are some thoughts and ideas, though, on how to teach our children about the real reason for celebrating Christmas:

Books! There are so many that tell the story of Christmas. Here are a few:

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The Donkey's Christmas Song

Movies: I’m sure there are many more, but here are a few that my kids watch:

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Church: I teach the children at my church and I put as much focus as I can on teaching about God during the holidays. This is an opportunity for boys and girls who may not ever have been taught about Christ during Christmas to learn, and for children who do know, to strengthen and increase their knowledge.

Remind and teach them: I find myself repeating over and over things like, “Santa sure is neat, but he isn’t real and remember that we are celebrating the birth of Jesus. What is the name of the town Jesus was born in? What kind of bed did He sleep in.”

Create a family tradition on Christmas Eve and Day: On Christmas Eve my dad always read us the nativity story. Try this passage Luke 2:1-20. Even as a young child I felt the sacredness of remembering while he read aloud. There were times, also, when we turned off the lights in the house and left only the flame of a candle burning. The flame reminded us of the Star of Bethlehem and of Jesus and it was simply a time to meditate on these things and a time of worship. All of these are memories from my childhood that I still treasure and they helped to teach me the meaning of Christmas.

Limit the amount and elaborateness of the gifts our children receive: I hope I’m not failing at this one. I really have to reign myself in here, as I want to buy them presents I know they will love. I do believe that it is wise to keep the gifts simple. Our kids do not need every expensive toy on the market they desire, no matter the time of year or celebration! Also, whether or not you tell them that Santa brought them the gifts is a choice you have to make as a parent, but we choose not to for our family. I also love the idea of having my children hand make gifts to give. *Cough* Maybe I will get to this one next year, but here are some ideas I love!

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Homemade snow globes!

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Woodland animal felt ornaments. I have actually purchased the felt for this project, but have just never sat down to work with my children to make them…someday…*sigh*

Giving! Oh, this category is huge. I cannot wait to involve my children more and more in this aspect of Christmas in the years to come. There are so many ways to give and to involve kids in it. Here is a list with links of some of my favorites:

Operation Christmas Child. Have your kids participate in packing shoeboxes full of gifts that will be sent to children in desperate need somewhere around the globe. Through the gift, the recipient will hear the salvation messages and be touched by the gifts they were given. http://www.samaritanspurse.org/index.php/OCC/

Local food drives: at least in our community, this is a big deal. There are multiple places to donate food items for those in need. Kids can use some of their allowance money or gift money to help purchase food to be donated.

Reece’s Rainbow: This is a fantastic charity. It is a website that helps build grants and raise awareness for children all over the world with special needs who are waiting to be adopted. When you give a financial gift to this ministry during their Angel Tree program you can receive a Christmas ornament with a picture of the child on it that you donated toward.  http://reecesrainbow.org/

Adopt a Family: You have to have some connections and know of just the right family to do this, but it is possible. Find a family in your community that needs some extra help around Christmas. Buy them groceries and gifts for the holidays.

Purchase gifts for someone living in intense poverty: Samaritan’s Purse Gift Catalog: You can purchase practical gifts to send to needy children and families all over the world. For example, buy a cow or purchase mosquito nets. https://www.samaritanspurse.org/index.php/Giving/gift_catalog/

You can also do this through Compassion International: http://www.compassion.com/catalog.htm

and World Vision: http://donate.worldvision.org/OA_HTML/xxwv2ibeCCtpSctDspRte.jsp?section=10389

If you already sponsor a child through one of these ministries they give you the option to purchase and/or send extra money for a Christmas gift for your sponsored child.

For even more ideas on giving, Ann Voskamp writes about teaching her children to be grateful during Christmas at her blog: http://www.aholyexperience.com/2012/12/the-grateful-christmas-project-7-ways-to-have-more-grateful-kids-this-christmas/

 

My friend, Krysten, also blogged some great ideas for Christmas and giving during the holidays over at her site:

http://restoringoldpaths.blogspot.com/search/label/Things%20I%27m%20an%20advocate%20for.

 

Be creative and diligent with your own ideas for teaching your kids about what Christmas is really about.

I’d love to hear your ideas and add them to what I teach my kiddos!

Merry Christmas!

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To Be at Rest

“Virtually all violence originates with the power of darkness.”~ Jesus the One and Only

12 Dead and at Least 50 Wounded.”

That headline screams at us from our computer screens and televisions today as our hearts hit the floor and we try to comprehend the senseless taking of these lives. Sorrow climbs up my throat and spills out my eyes as I try to grasp the horror of it…

This young man, what doors did he open to be filled with such violence, the unstoppable urge to terrorize and destroy? …”Do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. (Eph. 4:26) How much anger must have possessed him that he allowed such an opportunity?

His family, what incomprehensible sorrow and regret they must be feeling.

The victims…Is there a spectator in our country who isn’t completely devestated for them? Lord, “Bless() those who mourn for they shall be comforted.”

Immediately I react with fear. We are not safe. My children are growing up in a world diseased with violence and terrorism. As I stare at the computer screen and read about the tragedy this word keeps beating in my mind: chaos. Our world is in chaos.

But…

God has given us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (2 Tim. 1:7)

On behalf of our world, for those who suffer from violence and those who cause it, cry out with me to the Prince of Peace. “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace (1 Cor.14:33.)”

We must turn our hearts toward God. We must pray and remember that for now satan is “the ruler of this world…but he will be cast out(John 12:30.)”

We must put on the full armor of God: “10 Finally, be strong in the Lord   and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God,   so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood,   but against the rulers, against the authorities,   against the powers   of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God,   so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist,   with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith,   with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation   and the sword of the Spirit,   which is the word of God.18 And pray in the Spirit   on all occasions   with all kinds of prayers and requests.   With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying   for all the Lord’s people. (Eph. 6:10-18)”

Trust in His promises. For, “The Lord Almighty is with us, the God of Jacob is our Fortress (Psalms 46:7)”

 “If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed. If you look at God you’ll be at rest.”  ―    Corrie Ten Boom

 

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I’m writing this while I sit on the front porch swing and look out. It is a beautiful day. I mean gorgeous. About 80 degrees, with the sun shining and a breeze that just tickles the grass. From where I sit I can see and hear so much and it is lovely. I am soaking in the sky, trees, the pond with fish ripples, the flag waving from our front porch, the sandbox where the kids play…and I can hear a lot, too.

Where are you sitting right now and what can you see?

Today, right at this moment, the view I have is nearly perfect. It isn’t always so. Actually, this is sort of a rare few minutes for me. Typically there is just too much activity…the push to accomplish everything…for me to even focus on the whole view. I’m usually zeroed in a task and afraid to take my eyes off two accident prone toddlers for even a second. My vision gets pretty narrow sometimes.

In a similar manner, our emotional and spiritual vision can become narrowed. It’s like we are so focused on an issue, a problem, a stress, a hurt, an anger, an unforgiven…that it’s like we’re studying it under a microscope. It fills our central vision, and short of glancing up from time to time, we can’t see -think- of anything else. That sort of focus can be poison. Like our spiritual vision is becoming clouded with glaucoma and cataracts.

And to illustrate…

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Still on the front porch and this picture is an extreme close-up of a geniune, blood sucking, Arkansas tick. I abhor these creatures that carry disease and leave itching sores wherever they attach themselves. I took this picture just now to help illustrate my point. The limited focus of my snapshot captures mainly the tick. If I hadn’t just pointed it out, you may have never noticed (in my blurry photo) the fields in the background, the green trees, the sunlight, the panoramic beauty…the big picture.

How easy it is to allow our problems to take over our vision in a manner almost exactly this. So much of the good becomes obscured when an issue becomes a mountain we can’t see past.

Let us try and and open our eyes to see beyond what is dragging us down. More importantly, we should begin by trusting God to handle whatever the problem is. Because, no matter where you are standing, even with the best view in the world, all that your mind’s eye can behold is miniscule compared to the view He has. He sees that problem you have and He sees beyond it, too. He knows what is behind it and everything that surrounds it.

“God’s viewpoint is sometimes different from ours – so different that we could not even guess at it unless He had given us a Book which tells us such things….In the Bible I learn that God values us not for our strength or our brains but simply because He has made us.”
Corrie Ten Boom, The Hiding Place

Don’t forget, “He’s got the Whole World in His Hands.” His control over every situation is immaculate and He is simply waiting for us to surrender our troubles…our ALL…to Him. In return, He makes everything glorious…

“You Make Everything Glorious

The day is brighter here with You

The night is lighter than it’s hue

Would lead me to believe

Which leads me to believe

You make everything glorious

You make everything glorious

And I am Yours

What does that make me?

My eyes are small but they have seen

The beauty of enormous things

Which leads me to believe

There’s light enough to see that

You make everything glorious

You make everything glorious

And I am Yours

~ The David Crowder Band

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KuGRaCrg9hE

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Splitting

After much consideration I have finally decided to split this blog into two different sites. I intend to use this site for journaling and writing in general, while the second site: http://rebekahhome.wordpress.com/, will be where I post recipes, homemaking tips, etc. Things were just getting too confusing having everything all lumped into one site. I’m excited about this new step!

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The water was just sitting there above the moist, saturated ground. The water wasn’t agitated, it had been untouched since the rain that had caused it to fill up the small cavity of ground. It was just a puddle,

but it was a puddle with potential.

Watching from the window I had view as the oldest child started with a few sticks and rocks. The youngest watched…for a while. The water splashed and spread as my two young children used it to explore sink or float, swirly patterns and the feel of wet.

But I had told them not to get wet.

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The submerged sticks and rocks soon gave way  to underwater toes and playful water splashes. The two were in the water now and fully enjoying the sensory experience. Only, now the water had become something else. It looked like brownie mix all stirred up and ready for baking. The water had become squishy, brown mud and four little feet were muddy too, past the ankles.

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But it wasn’t just their feet;  hands and faces looked like they had been used to help clean a brownie bowl, too.

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The water play had turned to mud play and it had become more delightful for the children and much, much dirtier.

Remember, they had been told not to get wet.

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Sin can have appeal like that. It can look innocent and desirable. We can start to poke at it and feel regret, but not be able to avoid the temptation of it. We begin to dig deeper and it covers us more completely. Sometimes we forget to repent and lean on the One who makes “all things possible through Him.” Our sin dabbling can turn into a full body plunge into darkness and spiritual death.

Judas started with a few dips of his hands into the moneybag. A bag that was used for the ministry of Jesus. He stole the money and turned the value of riches into something more desirable than anything to him. But with his greed he had stirred the pot and the money had also become something black and dirty, a gateway for the devil himself and an unimaginable betrayal.

Sin is inevitable. At some point we will fall flat with our face in a mud puddle. We will sin and it will happen because of our imperfect human nature, the original sin and the lies and deceit of Satan. We “all fall short of the Glory of God.” What then should we do? How can we become clean again and wash it all off; protect ourselves from doing it again?

Look at the sin of David. He was “a man after God’s own heart,” but he more than fell flat on his face. He committed a sin that seems unforgivable. How did he differ from Judas? David became broken. He repented and begged God for forgiveness from a heart that was truly sorry for what he had done. Through the process of repentance he also trusted God and realized that his only hope of being saved from sin so thick that it must have been suffocating was through the absolute grace and forgiveness of God. David pulled himself up out of the mud and was washed clean. Then he yielded himself in the right way, to the heavenly father. God knows our hearts and he knows if we are truly repentant and ready to rely on Him. Read more here: http://wp.me/pNOi4-8G

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Yield to Him.

The first thing I must be willing to admit when I begin to examine what controls and dominates me is that I am the one responsible for having yielded myself to whatever it may be. If I am a slave to myself, I am to blame because somewhere in the past I yielded to myself. Likewise, if I obey God I do so because at some point in my life I yielded myself to Him.

If a child gives in to selfishness, he will find it to be the most enslaving tyranny on earth. There is no power within the human soul itself that is capable of breaking the bondage of the nature created by yielding. For example, yield for one second to anything in the nature of lust, and although you may hate yourself for having yielded, you become enslaved to that thing. (Remember what lust is— “I must have it now,” whether it is the lust of the flesh or the lust of the mind.) No release or escape from it will ever come from any human power, but only through the power of redemption. You must yield yourself in utter humiliation to the only One who can break the dominating power in your life, namely, the Lord Jesus Christ. “. . . He has anointed Me . . . to proclaim liberty to the captives . . .” (Luke 4:18 and Isaiah 61:1).

When you yield to something, you will soon realize the tremendous control it has over you. Even though you say, “Oh, I can give up that habit whenever I like,” you will know you can’t. You will find that the habit absolutely dominates you because you willingly yielded to it. It is easy to sing, “He will break every fetter,” while at the same time living a life of obvious slavery to yourself. But yielding to Jesus will break every kind of slavery in any person’s life.

~ Oswald Chambers

“…you are that one’s slave whom you obey…” (Romans 6:16)

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This Dream

Every kid has a dream and I had mine.

It was stories that lit me up, got me through the long, boring days of summer. The isolation I often felt while living miles away from anywhere…homeschooled.

I loved books and kept an open one hidden in the drawer of my desk while I was supposed to be doing schoolwork…“I’m looking for a pencil, mom.”

I loved old radio programs. Seriously. I found where they could be borrowed from the local library and spent countless hours listening to the over exaggerated action of Dick Tracy and the comedy of Groucho Marx and Benny King, was it? They were stories and I loved the places they took me.

We finally owned a television. Movies. Old ones, new ones, I loved them all.

I got a job and bought my own TV and VCR…you remember those, right? I probably spent just about every dime I made renting movies for $.49. Ask me if I’ve seen it…I probably have.

All this time those stories I devoured were a kind of nutrient for me. The stories I read/heard/watched, maybe they were more like blood transfusions…defibrillators for my need to tell stories.

But my writer’s voice never could take that first breath, or the next. It would just lay there dormant. A dried up ink pen waiting for the right kind of paper to draw out the words hidden inside it.

I have always longed to write. That was…is my dream.

I am 29 now and for most of those back-years I felt the pull to write and often did…tried. Everything felt forced and difficult. I found no joy in it, just a great need to do it. My lack of confidence was also the death before the birth of any creativity; fear of punctuation and a morbid obsession with being judged.

These days I feel a bit like Hannah must have. She longed for a son and I longed to write. We were both given what we prayed for and both for the glory of God.

Presumptuous?

I realize that my talent is pretty tightly pinched in at the edges. More importantly, I understand that I have been given a gift, in whatever limited capacity, and I must do the best I can to glorify God with it. After that, what is left for me is this joy of feeling like I have been loosed in a way. You might know what I’m talking about if you have found your creative outlet.

This writing is a way for me to worship. It is a sort of a wire transfer between me and God. When I abide in Him and in His words a match is struck. It leads me to learn so much when the flame of something is lit inside me and I have to study God’s Word in order for it to flare up like a diesel fed bonfire. I am hungry for what inspires me and I pray my openness of soul becomes food of a spiritual nature for someone else…a reader.

I cannot over exclaim the joy it has given me this past year to finally start really writing. My fingers pick at words from the keyboard that tell the story of my heart. So all of you who read are eyewitness to my own open heart surgery, as you peer inside this…the cavity of my spirit turned inside out onto a page.

I wish each of you could know how precious it is to me that you have taken the time to read these murmurs of my heart. Thank you for bearing with me as I stumble through the candid writing down of my life, bits of it anyway, and worship of The Most High. Will you continue to follow me on this journey as I leap from cliffs of self-doubt and pride to plunge into discovery and communion? Please do. I would love for you to be by my side.

Follow me here as I learn that all is because of the grace of God:

https://rebekahlife.wordpress.com/.

Squeezing in a little thank you here to my husband who encouraged me to not just wish I was writing, but to write. Also, a thank you to my mom for the nudges and the faith.

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