Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Drawing a Conclusion Pt 1

I admit it. I am a documentary addict. I love to learn and it turns out there are many, many documentaries available to watch {and from all different perspectives, so I must put on my thinking cap to separate truth from propaganda}.

I also love books, especially non-fiction books that glorify our great God and encourage my walk along the narrow path.

I am about to draw a conclusion that is disturbing, but at the same time, it is full of hope because I think I see a link. I'm going to introduce each piece of the pie as evidence.

Evidence #1

This past summer, I did a book study through the book, "Six Ways to Keep the Little in Your Girl" by Dannah Gresh. In chapter 8, she is encouraging parents to unplug their kids from electronic devices. She states that the lack of imaginative play eliminates {or decreases drastically} children's self-control. One example is a child's ability to stand still.

Before all the technical gadgets, TVs and gaming devices came along, a child ages 5 and above was able to stand still for an indefinite period of time. Can you imagine that? Can your child stand still for any amount of time? Now that our children are spending hours in front of screens, they have lost the ability to focus and stand still. They cannot self-regulate.

Sound familiar? I'll bet if you are a first grade teacher, you would understand this in a big way!

Evidence #2

Stay tuned...

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Time of Reflection, Pt 2

So 20 years ago, I was a High School senior dreaming of what I would be when I grew up and preparing to start tackling those dreams.

I pointed out in the previous post that, even though I would have told you that I was a Christian, I was not walking with the Lord at all. Mistake #1.

Fast forward 10 years. I am married {to an unbeliever - mistake #2}. After several months of trying, we are finally pregnant! We called everyone we knew to tell them the good news. We even came to an agreement on a name for the baby {if it were the boy we were hoping for}.

I had an early ultrasound since it was my first pregnancy. There we found out that we were not in fact pregnant. My body just thought that it was. The technical term is a blighted ovum, which means something went wrong during the fertilization and there was not a baby in the growing fetal sac.

Devastated. My entire world came crashing down. My foundation was built on shifting sand and it just imploded.

It hurt so badly and deeply to even think about, so I began to numb the pain. I escaped reality. I looked for anything or anyone that made life fun and happy, even if it was temporary. My husband was not being supportive or loving {I mean who could love the tornado I had turned into anyway}, so I looked for love in other places.

At the time, one of my best friends was also going through a very difficult emotional situation. We often referred to ourselves as train wrecks. We were out of control friends searching for anything to make us happy. I was a horrible influence on her and she was a horrible influence on me.

But we would have both told you that we were Christians.

10 years ago...

I lost the baby I longed for.

I ruined the marriage I thought would last forever.

I pushed everyone away and hurt anyone who dared get in my way of having fun.

I was on my way to breaking all 10 commandments.

I ran as far away from God as I possibly could.

God was going to show me that it took more than walking an aisle or being dunked in water to be a follower of Christ. I had to lose everything so that I could clearly see the glory and grace of God.

Whoever says “I know him”
but does not keep his commandments is a liar,
and the truth is not in him {1 John 2:4}
Whoever says he is in the light
and hates his brother
is still in darkness. {1 John 2:9}
Do not love the world or the things in the world.
If anyone loves the world,
the love of the Father is not in him. {1 John 2:15}
Ashamed and broken. Hurt and alone. I had broken so many hearts and I cannot even imagine how God was feeling at this point, looking down on the mess I had made of my life. It took a while to get back on the right path to God, but at least I was starting to search again. At least it was becoming very, very obvious that I needed to be back in church.
Hebrews 12 tells us, "My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” 
I was not being punished for my sin - Jesus took care of all that on the cross. I was being disciplined in order that I might seek the Lord. I was being disciplined to save my life.

I am ashamed of my sin, but I am thankful for the Lord's forgiveness and mercy. My life has changed so much in the last 10 years that it is hard to remember who I used to be. Of course, there are ramifications to the sin I committed {mostly emotional scars and temptations for sin} that I will carry for my entire life - but I have found love, forgiveness, grace, mercy and eternal hope in Jesus.

Have you experienced forgiveness through Jesus? Do you know for sure that you will go to heaven when you die? If not, I highly suggest you learn more about Jesus and how to become a genuine Christian.

Do you ever take time to look at all you have been saved from and the person you used to be {the "old man"}? I think remembering who I was makes the salvation I find in Jesus even more sweet.



Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A Time of Reflection, Pt 1

This year, 2013, is going to be a very significant time in my life. It has only just started and I can already feel myself being pulled into thoughts of the past {some good, some not-so-good}. This is year marks the anniversary for so many different things in my life that I cannot help but be pulled back onto memory lane and view it through my current world view {aka, the lens of age and experience - imagine how thick those lenses will be when I am my grandparents' ages!}.

First, it means that 20 years ago, I was a Senior in High School. Ah! I know, I look so young {lol!)! But seriously, 20 years?! How on earth did 20 years fly by so quickly?!  I was not a popular kid or even an unpopular kid. I had many friends and a couple trusted BFFs. Of course, like any normal HS girl, I bounced around the thoughts of "love" for this boy or that boy, but there was not a significant "boyfriend" {until after I graduated}.

At 17, I thought I knew everything there was to know about everything. There are a few HUGE regrets I have {even though I know God uses it all for His glory and for my own good}.

Purity - Not having a good biblical view of purity and understanding why God has all these rules. I wish I had an understanding that went beyond the mean, legalistic, narrow-minded rules to the beautiful, God-honoring, pure view of marriage. When a person has a goal in mind, and that goal is beautiful, sacred, wonderful, fun, and secure, it makes the rules "worth it". But when there is  no goal in mind, the rules just seem unreasonably harsh and are easily thrown out the window with the "everybody else is doing it and they seem to be enjoying themselves - a LOT" kind of excuse. When you see how the beautiful, pure bride represents the church and the handsome, strong husband is Christ, it sheds a whole new light on marriage and relationships.

Knowledge vs. Relationship - Even though I thought I knew everything about everything as a teenager {and if I didn't, I had enough control of the English vocabulary to use an avalanche of words to convince anyone that I did - lol!} I did not have a full understanding about what it meant to be a Christian. Oh, I had read some of my Bible and been attending church, but it was not a sound bible teaching church and they didn't teach {or at least I didn't listen if they did} about what it means to have a relationship with Christ. They taught about sin and hell and that we all need a Savior {that's a good starting point}, but they didn't tell us what to do after we walked the aisle, confessed Christ as our Savior and were baptized.

Mom - One thing I regret most of all is the way I treated my Mom. My mother is a jewel. I know everyone thinks that about their Mom, but mine really is. We did not have an ideal situation at home, but my Mom was determined to keep our family together. She loved {and still does} my father so much and was willing to stand by him through extremely difficult decisions. At the time, I remember thinking {and actually saying to her - unfortunately} that she was the biggest doormat ever and there was no way I would ever let a man treat me that way! I recall times when my Mom would not make a decision about something until she could talk to my Dad and I would roll my eyes and give the big, full-body sigh {you know the one that gives the message that "I am so smart and you are so stupid"} in unbelief that she would respect or even care about what he thought.

Looking back - my Mom is an excellent example of a biblical, submissive wife. She is not perfect, but she tried her best to honor and respect my Dad, even if  I didn't think he deserved it. She loved him when he was unloveable. She took seriously those vows they said 38 years ago - for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, to death do us part. The only way she was able to do this was by the grace of God. My Dad did not make it easy on her - but neither did I. That is the part that I regret. I wish I could have seen her through the eyes of Jesus. I would have helped her more instead of condemning her. I would have loved her more to help fill the painful wounds in her heart. I would have willfully helped out more {instead of begrudgingly}with my younger sisters. My mom truly is a jewel and I wish I could have seen her beauty when I was such a "smart" teen.

Dad - Ok, so I talked about my Mom, now I'll admit my regrets about my Dad. You can already tell that he wasn't perfect, but I love him so much! You see, we all have our own personal walks and some of us make decisions early in life that impact our entire walk on the Earth. We make decisions to be involved with things that are addictive or we are exposed to abuses as a child that impact how we handle life - some more than others. It is only by the {common} grace of God that we are not all partaking in the amount of wickedness that we are capable of.

With that being said, my Dad did a number of things that I am sure he regrets that were sinful and not godly. However, he did many good things. He is such a loving father and tried to make up for the difficult times by making sure we knew he loved us. Even though his walk wasn't perfect, he loves the Lord. He made sure that we knew God is the Creator of everything. He made sure we knew that we are all sinners in need of a Savior.

I regret not seeing my Dad as a person who was drowning in his own sinful choices. I only saw him through my self-centered agenda and concentrated on how he wasn't meeting MY needs. I didn't see him through the eyes of Jesus - Who loves my Dad unconditionally. Oh, Jesus hates the sin, but He loves my Dad. I needed to just love my Dad, too. I needed to be compassionate and loving, especially when he was broken.

You see, it wasn't that many years later that I was trapped by my own sinful choices and broken. I am thankful that Jesus was there to pick me up, instead of treating me like I treated my Dad - smug, self-righteous, know-it-all, I-told-you-this-was-going-to-happen. I love my Dad and am so very thankful that God chose him to be my father.

Sisters - I was so self-centered that I did not care much about my little sisters. I should have been a good role model and had a desire to mentor them. Did I? Nope. I was so selfish that I looked at them as burdens {since I had to watch them so much of the time}. Oh the regrets!!!  It breaks my heart to think of my daughters treating each other the way I treated my sisters. Amazingly, we are still friends today {even though we are not as close as some sisters are} and I pray this relationship will grow through the years. I would do almost anything for my sisters today, although because of past hurts, they do not tend to ask.

So basically I would have told you I was a Christian when I was a teenager, but I was ignoring the greatest commandments. I did not love God with my entire heart, soul, strength and mind and I did not love others more than myself.

We all have stories of regret. The key is deciding how to give it to God for the glory. Remember, if we are His child, He has allowed all of this for His glory and our good. I hate that all this happened, but God used it to shape who I am today. Without a gross picture of my own depravity, I would not see my need for a Savior.

This was 20 years ago; next up {and even more painful} is what happened 10 years ago...

Friday, January 4, 2013

Healthy Living - First Thoughts on Juicing

Ok, so I got the juicer and I am super excited {can you tell?}!

I cannot say that after making 3 juices that I feel like 1000 bucks or anything, but I know I am providing my body with extra vitamins and nutrients that I would not ordinarily have in my diet. I mean, kale - who just eats kale? Not this girl. I do eat a lot of veggies, but it can be rather sporadic. This is a way to incorporate extra veggies in my diet {and my family's diet once they get used to the juices or I find a recipe they love} that doesn't depend on my mood or what "sounds good" for dinner.

One thing I am noticing is the amount of "waste" that is put off when juicing. It is a lot. So this has me thinking about reusing these pulps and skins in soups and such. That will mean a little more prep time and strategically juicing in a specific order {I don't really want apple peels in my veggie soup}, but I think it will be worth the effort.

I also think we will start composting. This would be an excellent source of nutrients for our garden!

Speaking of gardening...I cannot wait for spring to arrive {I know, it is only January} so that I can start planting veggies in our own garden that we can juice. No more wasted tomatoes!!!! We will juice {and can} all the extras {Lord willing}! I think we will grow a lot more dark green and leafy veggies {kale, spinach, broccoli}. I think we may also plant a small herb garden to add even more flavor to our juices!

I told you I was excited!!

Here are the recipes I have tried thus far:

Green Drink

3 stalks kale
2 handfuls of spinach leaves
3 carrots {leaves removed}
1 apple

Add all veggies and fruit to juicer and enjoy!

Orange Dreamsicle

4 oranges, peeled
2 carrots
1 banana

Juice the oranges and carrots. Then whip the juice and bananas in a blender for a creamy smoothie. Add a few ice cubes if you like to cool it down.

I cannot wait to try something else!

Do you have a juicer? What are your favorite recipes? I'd love to try them out!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

I'm back!! Happy 2013!

Happy New Year!

Many of you are new to my blog and I'd like to personally invite you to grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair and join the conversations this year. I had to take a little time off from writing last year due to the intense homeschooling schedule we have, but I am hoping to better organize my time {the hint of a resolution} and be able to blog more starting TODAY!

Since it is New Years Day, many of you are thinking of making resolutions. I read through the post I wrote last year on New Years' Resolutions, or "goals", and was inspired all over again! I highly suggest you click over for some great suggestions.

For 2013, I am planning {Lord willing} to do the following:

Read through the Old Testament in a year. This shouldn't be too difficult, but it will get me into God's word {which I love} and still allow time for other reading. And to make this even more special, I get to read from the new MacArthur ESV Study Bible that my loving husband got me for Christmas {even though we agreed not to get each other presents this year}.
Start juicing! I have been watching many documentaries {some really good, some terrible} about food and I am inspired to start juicing. I have ordered my juicer {here is the brand I chose} and am anxiously awaiting delivery. Once it is here and I have it figured out, I may even attempt a 10 day juice fast {gulp}. I suffer from many health issues - nothing life threatening, but they do interfere with my quality of life - and I truly believe I can find relief, if not total healing, with a change in my diet {adding in superfoods and many vitamin rich vegetables}. I'll be sharing my adventures in juicing with you in case you want to give your body a reboot. {smile}

Read "Fierce Women; The Power of a Soft Warrior" and allow God to change my heart and attitude. My Mom suggested this book after hearing the author on the radio and my sister got it for me for Christmas. Admittedly, I heard the same author, actually her husband, on the radio and wanted to get a copy of the book as well. I felt the conviction just from the radio interview - and now that I am a couple chapters into the book - wow! I am definitely a fierce woman and unfortunately, my tongue can be "a restless evil full of deadly poison", just as the Bible describes it in the book of James 3. I need help in taming my tongue and attitude to use the qualities God gave me for His glory, not as a way to get my own way and bully those around me {including my loving husband}. Look for future posts about this book, and maybe even a giveaway. I can't save all this conviction for myself!
Back on the healthy side of things, I am also planning on drinking more water. Again, on one of the documentaries I watched, they suggested starting out your day, before even a sip of coffee, drinking a liter of water to jumpstart your system. I actually started this a few days ago and L.O.V.E. how it makes me feel. It gets me into the habit of grabbing a glass of water, not only in the morning, but throughout the day. Nothing bad can come from this - well, except maybe having to take a potty break during the middle of my run at the gym! Just a little embarrassing....  {giggle}
Just like last year, I will also be looking for more ways to love and bless others and spread the good news of the Lord Jesus Christ. The more and more I see happening in our world, the more I believe that Jesus may be coming back soon. I want everyone I know to be caught up in the rapture with me and none to be left behind. The book of Revelation does not describe a fun party time when the Christians leave the Earth. I have been reading about it in my Bible reading program from last year and it is a fearful thing to be in the hands of an angry God {J. Edwards, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" for more}.