Monday, May 16, 2016

"...All for love's sake became poor"

This evening my daughter, Annabelle, wanted to sleep out in the living room on our "new" couch...

... that would be the one I found this past weekend at a thrift store with beautifully retro fabric, absolutely no signs of wear-n-tear and a price tag no one could refuse...

One of the benefits of being out in the living room is of course her close proximity to where our dog, Bandit, spends his evening hours.

At one point I had gone out there and noticed he had finessed his way up onto the couch with her. I gently reminded her that he wasn't allowed on the couch. (I know, I'm so mean)

A couple hours later, when it was time for his final nighttime "outing", I strained to see in the pitch blackness of the room, but I could tell she was no longer on the couch. She was in fact on the living room floor.

The hardwood floor.

The uncomfortable hardwood floor.

The dirty and uncomfortable hardwood floor... right next to Bandit's pillow.

Sunday morning we sang the song, "Here I am to Worship" and this image of my sweet girl laying on the floor to be close to her puppy reminded me of the lyric from the song that reads,
King of all days
Oh, so highly exalted
Glorious in Heaven above
Humbly You came
To the earth You created
All for love's sake became poor.
What a truly simple example of what love does. When we weren't able to be with God because of our sin, He came to us. He left his rightful and glorious place to be with us on this dirty and uncomfortable world.

And what an equally simple reminder of what our obedience as Christ's followers should look like. I can guarantee you, Annabelle didn't even give a second thought to what she was giving up in order to be close to her dog. It only made sense that if she couldn't bring him to where she was, she would go to where he was.

1 John 4:7-21
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.
      Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us. If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.

Luke 6:20-36
And turning His gaze toward His disciples, He began to say, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. “Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. “Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. “Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets. “But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full. “Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way. “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. “Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. “Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. “Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. “If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. “If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

1 Corinthians 13:1-3
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Bible. Time.

So I had read about a new website that was launching this year and thankfully I remembered to look it up again on New years Eve. It was (which is actually connected to a couple other website as well... one of them being The Bible Project which actually has the reading plan on it). After perusing the sites, I found that the plan looked very practical and I immediately knew that I wanted to implement it with the kids, whether it was a part of their school hours or as a family in the evening.

I shared it with the hubs and he was all for it, but asked, "what do we do if we miss a reading?" to which i replied, "we don't". :D

Of course I know that's very impractical to expect a flawlessly executed reading plan. I know it's difficult to maneuver around schedules and activities of SIX people. On the days when our evenings are filled with a commitment, the kids and I make sure to read and pray earlier in the afternoon.

All that to say, it's day 12 and I want to give an update on how it's going. So far we've missed one day. It was because without thinking, three kids were sleeping over at a friends house and I had neglected to think about it early enough since the first kid was gone by noon. We reviewed/skimmed the reading we missed and just picked up where we left off the next day.

Here's what I've learned/observed in the whopping 12 days we've been doing this... (i figured it'd be nice to record my thoughts early on, to compare with my thoughts a few months from now).

1. It takes time. and this is a good thing.
I think most reading plans and devotionals tend to promote that you can get it done in just a matter of minutes. you can get in, get out, and get on with your day. but this causes two problems (for me at least). One, it makes it a whole lot easier to allow the excuse to skip a day to come in with, "Oh it's just a few minutes, i can catch up tomorrow"... but then never do. and two, there's just something so great about actually taking time... i mean actually investing it in the word. I don't actually know how many minutes it takes us, its at least 30-45 (which sounds minuscule when I type it out)... but so far not a single person has complained that it's taken "too long".

2. the kids love it.
We take turns reading chapters (it's about 3 or 4 a night, plus discussing/praying through a psalm). We stop and make fun of silly or hard to pronounce names like "Oholibama" and we make wise cracks and inside jokes about war babies and share crazy thoughts about crazy things that were done back then. but the way i KNOW without a doubt the kids love it (besides a complete lack of moaning and groaning, which i fully expected to hear)... is that every time we pray, someone will say "thank you, Lord, that we got to be together tonight" or "thank you, Lord, that we got to spend time reading together".

3. it messes up our plans. and this is a good thing.
Because it's not just a quick, bible fix... because it's not something you can drive thru on the go, you have to lay aside other plans to make it happen. Too often we want to have our cake and eat it too without much effort. When we go through life kicking and screaming and doing everything possible to hold onto our "american dream" cake, it's really difficult to consider tossing it out for something else when our eyes are so fixed on what we want. but now, i find myself on the other side of the table... we have this veritable feast in our hands, no way do I want to toss it aside for a measly crumb of cake.
see, i dont think God was being a meanie pants when he said you can't serve two masters... he knows how we click, he knows that either we'll invest in ourselves, or we'll invest in the kingdom... there is no "balance" possible between the two. we have allowed our churches and its members to believe the lie that we can live in selfish pursuit and still call ourselves Christians. it doesn't work. all it does is wear you out, stress you out, and burn you out. and I'm afraid it leaves too many families wondering what the heck happened.

4. I really hope we stay consistent because I really am enjoying it as well. 
and if we do royally mess up and get way behind, it'll be ok because we'll demonstrate what it means to press on despite "failure". we'll pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off and keep walking. keep learning. keep reading. keep praying. keep asking questions. keep investing. I'm not afraid of messing up this family reading plan, because i know that my God is faithful to multiply and bless the time we invest in His word.
How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Personal Vision Statement

I have found that there is a very fine line in making a really long TO-DO list versus setting some goals for the coming year.


As I've been thinking and working through my goals for 2016, I realize how valuable it is to really understand the heart of each goal "area"... because as you set your goals and actions to achieve those goals, you are essentially deciding what you want your life to be about for a specific amount of time... and because life brings things we didn't plan for and don't expect, then I find my well thought out and planned to do list flies out the window. Or sometimes unexpected opportunities come along that look really good, but may not be beneficial. Other times there are opportunities that look too scary and risky, but are exactly what we ought to do... and too often we're left wondering what to do. I find that when I've determined what I want my life (or at least the coming year) to be about, then it becomes a lot easier to decide whether to take a new opportunity or let something go. I've approached our homeschooling that way, and it's worked out really well. I don't feel guilty when saying "no" to certain things, and I can fully and confidently embrace the things we say "yes" to.

So I came up with a sort of "Life Statement" for this coming year. I can use it as a standard to ask myself, "Will this [thing, activity, commitment, decision, etc...] help accomplish the goals set forth in my vision statement?" I can also start each day by asking, "what can I do today to take a step closer to living out this statement?"

Sooo, here it is...
Personal Vision Statement: I purpose to invest time, money, energy and other resources toward the following: meeting physical and spiritual needs around the world; meeting immediate and long-term needs in my own community and church body; studying the Word and practicing prayer; creating a healthy, functional and sustainable family home; training the children in character development, spiritual knowledge and academic achievement; nourishing interpersonal relationships with others; and developing my creative skills and expanding my intellectual knowledge.

What do you think? Does it make more sense to you to think about specific detailed goals? or to set up a statement of measure for whatever comes along? or both? or maybe to just fly by the seat of your pants, ha?!? :)

I think that just like a young child starts to ask "why?" when we tell them to do something, it's important to know the "reason" behind our chosen actions. It helps keep us motivated through the tough times, helps us refine our choices along the way, and helps prevent regret from wasted days.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Christmas of "Giving"

I decided to title my post the Christmas of "giving", not because our other Christmases aren't giving, but because of something Micah said this morning... She said, "Mom, I'm really excited this year! But not about getting presents, I'm excited about giving them!"

over the last couple of weeks, the kids have been secretly making gifts here and there and there really was a lot of excitement in the air tonight. It wasn't about hoping for a particular gift on a wish list... instead it was about finally letting the other person open what they had made or passed down.

Sam sent the girls on a secret code mission.

They were rewarded with some special chocolate. :)

Annabelle made little ornaments for everyone. :)

I crocheted headbands for the girls and a jumbo hacky sac for Sam :)

From Micah and Annabelle...

Micah crocheted gifts for annabelle and zosie...

A box-cat for Annabelle (it's a little character that Annabelle drew a while back).

and a special angel for zosie....

we all decided it needed to go on the tree!

Micah and annabelle asked daddy for some help with Sam's gift... They designed it and he cut it out of plywood for them and then they painted it!

Annabelle cleaned up her skates and passed them down to zosie. :)

oh and here's a photo of the cards i made for the kids! they were most excited about the family weekend of camping and the spa day!

Merry Christmas Everybody!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

My "Crazy" Christmas Idea (Part 2)

So almost a month went by... and i still hadn't clued the kids into my Crazy Christmas Idea.

Let's face it... I just didn't want to hear or see the disappointment in my kids eyes.

So the random conversations of "I know what I want for Christmas" kept coming up, so i knew it was time to rip off the bandaid and dash all the hopes and dreams of my children.

I hope you know I'm being sarcastic... but it still wasn't easy.

So I sat down with my girls (Sam was at a friends house for the day) and went into a short explanation about budgeting... or at least how we've had to tweak the budget for a few reasons. I explained how we didn't have the money to get things for Christmas and without me having to bring it up, Micah mentioned that we didn't really have the room either. I talked about how we still wanted to DO something, so we were going to give experiences or things to DO throughout the year.

here's what I walked away with from that conversation:

1. It was an excellent opportunity to correct or clarify a phrase I say quite often right now, "We don't have the money for it". In the kids eyes this meant we didnt have money for anything and that was causing a little bit of worry. so I clarified that we had plenty of money and we're able to take care of all the important and necessary things like our house and the other house and our vehicles and groceries and giving to missions in India and Ukraine, but that extra things had to wait and be planned out and saved for more than normal.

2. They weren't devastated. As a matter of fact over the next few days, the girls got busy making gifts. Just simple crafts and drawings for each other... but each wrapped with care and love and a heart of giving. Micah decided to crochet a couple gifts.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Annual Review (2015)

I noticed the other day, in talking with a friend, that I had forgotten a handful of "good" things that had happened this year... and of course I can't remember what they were at this particular moment. Either way it was then that i realized it was that time of year again... time to look back at the year, look at the goals and expectations I had for the year and evaluate and process it all.

There's a real value in setting achievable goals and there's even greater value in processing what did and did not pan out.

{If you're interested in seeing where i get this yearly motivation to review life, check out this blog for more info}

So as I look back through my spreadsheet I am quite certain I am ready for a new year. I wouldn't wish this year away by any means, but it's just been very ...unexpected.

What Went Well:
Our T-shirt and Tamale fundraisers for our India trip... and quite frankly just an amazing amount of the Lord's provision along the way! which of course resulted in our first family mission trip. There's no way to sum up in one sentence how impactful this was... we literally talk about India every. single. day. in some form or fashion. and I cannot even begin to explain how much it means to me that my children now understand and share this part of my heart.

I did manage to put together a 20 minute documentary/video journal of our trip and we've been able to share that with close friends and i think that'ss helped our debriefing process.

The kids and I volunteered/participated in an after school program that is held just down the street. We had been looking for a way to connect with people in our immediate community and this has been a good start to getting to know some of the kids.

I've grown more consistent with "whole foods" in our diet. Things that may have seemed more daunting at first, are now more familiar... like making bone broth on a regular basis and making more things from scratch, etc...

As far as the goals and things i had written down, this about covers it for the "well" part.

and of course looking back, i fully understand why other things didn't... things like my homeschooling goals weren't even set because i had determined to focus on the India trip january and february. then, when we got back in april and dealt with an onslaught of things, it pushed my goal setting back. ultimately though, the summer afforded the opportunity to really establish a decent routine... so the fall definitely had more consistency than any other year.

Same thing happened with things like a garden. once we realized i wouldn't be here for major planting season, i just had let that goal go, which was remarkably more difficult than i thought it would be.

Things that did not go well (or as expected)
I did expect a great many things following the return of our trip, but much of it flew out the window within a matter of weeks.

I did not expect to carry the load of worship team responsibilities for a span of 4 months. 4 months sound too short as I type it out because it felt like years. This brought an amazing amount of stress to my life, to the point that I was dealing with anxiety and panic attacks on a regular basis. I was not leading well. But the Lord was good and kind in His provision of a worship pastor for our church.

i did not get even remotely close to the amount of planning and work i wanted to accomplish with a certain event for next year. and looking back i'm sad that one of my goals was to send a team to India for the holidays, and that just didnt' even get to the planning stages.

The afterschool program, while a good learning experience for me in patience, respect, submission, staying calm in chaos, seeing past particulars and focusing on heart intentions, has been difficult for a few reasons and I'm still trying to determine how to resolve and respond to it all.

Finally, having to spend a significant amount on dental work, automotive problems, and loosing our renters has made it difficult to meet the needs of others the way I truly desire to do so. (and of course with that comes the thought that perhaps i still don't fully understand what sacrifice really means).

so I know I've said it already, but yeah... I'm ready for a new year. I've tried to have the perspective that every day is new, and that helps for sure... but i am really really really ready for the newness of the year to come.

I can definitely appreciate how this year will help next year to be even better, and I know there's nothing I can do to change what was, and I know that God was sovereign through it all... I just need to reconcile that in my heart and mind ...and move forward.

so. now I can begin the process of looking ahead... and I'll share that with you soon. Remember, if you want to conduct your own annual review, check out this link for more info.

blog ya later.

Annnual Review (2014)

I was about to start in on my review of 2015 post and found that I had never published my review from last year. 0.o oh well... here it is, and hopefully sometime this week i'll get through this year's review lol.


Well I've searched and I can't seem to locate my documents from the last two years. Thankfully I found the same article and an updated template to start work on this years review. (don't know what I'm talking about, Read This Article) Since I can't locate last years to actually review it, I just have to think through a general "what worked and what didn't" without reference to what I had hoped for. :P

What worked in 2014.
- starting the year off in India (priceless)
- implementing more nutrient dense foods in our diet
- buying a smaller house
- teaching at Artlife
- taking the fall semester off from ELO
- a simplified homeschool schedule/format.
- deciding to rent our previous house

What didn't "work". {I hesitate with this category, because i do think that ALL things work together for good... because i learn and grow from it. so i don't see these as failures or even as regrets, just areas that i need to continue to grow in}
- exercise, (but i did loose weight because of our healthier eating)
- didn't sell house, (but we were still able to maintain our normal giving and pay two mortgages for a time)
- waiting too long to apply for kids passports and visas
- too much money spent on vehicle repairs. (ok this is more of a "I didn't LIKE it" category, lol)
- became less consistent with commitments and was overbooked in the fall.

Overall last year was definitely ... um... crazy. crazy but wonderful, hard but spectacular, tight but full, ... it was... crazy.

now it's time to look forward. while i want to be completely surrendered and flexible and open to whatever the Lord has in store, i want to be proactive in pursuing the things He has commanded us too.

So my main focus categories for this year are...

*Global Missions   *Local Missions   *Church Family   *Personal Growth
*Home Life & Sustainability   *Homeschool   *Art Life & Creativity

Each category has a main goal behind why it's being prioritized and then there are smaller, specific goals and tasks needed to achieve those goals.

while I haven't usually consulted the review continually throughout the year like you're "supposed" to, I have found that it helps to get a good idea of where I wanna head for the year.