And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children. Isaiah 54:13 KJV

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Purposeful

Proverbs 19:21 Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.



So I looked back at my post last new year's and my resolutions (see my post from Jan 4). One was to be healthier. I sort of stuck to that! I was very diligent about my diet the first few months of last year. Then the diet fell to the wayside but I did begin exercising and I followed through on that the rest of the year. One of my resolutions this year is to continue the exercise and GO BACK to the diet. I don't mean diet like only to lose weight, I mean like healthier eating, lower calories, more all natural (and I will lose weight in the process).

My other resolution was to bring more quality into our lives. To seek quality in all things. I think I did much better on that this past year as well. Not always but in the things I was striving to work on.

So this year my key word is going to be PURPOSEFUL. This word has come up again and again in Sunday School, church service, personal reading, etc. Meaning just to be purposeful in all things. Not my plans but purposeful in using our lives to serve the Lord. I very easily fall into patterns of wasting time playing on the computer, watching TV, reading, etc. This year I want to be purposeful in my time. I have joined Read the Bible in 90 Days. Reading is an awesome activity and I will continue to read this year but I want to be purposeful and read the Bible cover to cover in its entirety and I want to read more Christian books (not novels).

I was so impressed with my kids and the amazing way they behaved this Christmas. I know in my heart that all the extra bible reading we did for our Jesse Tree made a big difference. We will be doing more family bible time. We read Big Truths for Little Kids with them this past year. We may do it again. They both received age appropriate devotions in their stocking so we will go through those.

I have been busy as a bee planning Apple's homeschooling for this semester. I feel more purposeful by having it all laid out and ready to go. Now the time I would spend the night before, I can read the bible or do more purposeful activities.

Will we completely cease watching TV? I don't think so. Will we do more activities that praise the Lord? Yes. That's the plan.

We have discussed having more other families over for meals, spending time studying missionaries in other places, praying as a family for those requests we here. I'm even thinking of starting a prayer board in a place the kids can see it to help us all remember all those requests we here throughout the week.

Tell me what your New Year's resolutions are...... If you make them!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!


Merry Christmas from the Carter Family!


Our home this year was filled with cheer
and presents all the way up to our ears!
The children proclaimed "Happy birthday Jesus"
thank you for coming to earth to overcome our sin!
We are so thankful for family and friends
We are looking forward whatever the New Year rends!

Okay I'm all out of rhymes. Seemed like a great idea when I started! We had a fabulous Christmas. I was so proud of both of my kids. They get the most improved attitude award for Christmas! Last year they were very focused on gifts and what else do I get and that's not what I wanted. This year they reminded us and everyone else that Christmas is not about presents but the birth of Jesus. Apple retold the story almost word for word (from Luke) several times in the last 3 days. They were patient and well behaved when it was present opening time. They were grateful and happy and satisfied! Thank you Lord!

We really tried to be purposeful with the kids this year and telling them what we really thought about Christmas and it really paid off! I was so pleased! I am praying that in the New Year we will be this purposeful all year about God's plan for us! Imagine what Christmas will hold next year!

We hope you had a wonderful Christmas! God bless!




Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What has been lost & gained in 2010.....

I know it isn't over yet, but the the end of the year is quickly approaching! This post has been on my mind for the last few days. I'm going to try to get my rambled thoughts into a coherent post.

2010 has been an interesting year for our family. It feels as though it has gone by so, so quickly but yet as I think back to January, February, March they feels as though they were long ago.

We have already lost 2 families from our church congregation (soon to be 3) to the missions field this year. Oh how I miss them! As we prepare for the third family depart, I feel the longing for the others more acutely than I have in the last couple of months. Will you pray for all our missionary friends? The R family to Norway, the N family to Saipan, and soon the S family to Uganda. To be honest my husband and I have just really began to understand international missions in the last 3 years. Prior to that I always thought there was more than enough missions work in our own country that needed to be done. Why go so far as Africa or Norway? Why send so much money to other nations when so many in our own nation are struggling? Our country does need more missionaries, more people to stand up and say "I believe in Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for me. I'm going to live, and speak, and behave so that everyone knows about Him." Many in our nation are struggling financially and could have much to gain from assistance. But oh, the Lord has changed our hearts. He has gently reminded us over and over of Matthew 28:19-20 "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." Meeting so many missionaries from all over the world, watching friends heed God's call to other nations, and my hubby going on his first international missions trip has forever changed our hearts. So if you feel the way that I use to feel, I urge you to read deeper into God's word and to seek out blogs and articles on the things happening all over the world in the name of Christ.

We have lost loved ones. Dear friends lost their infant early in the year. We have seen again that the loss of a child bears so much pain. God reminded us in Matthew 5:4 "4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted." I was so grateful for that reminder because later in the year, my grandma passed away. Still feeling the pain of loss from my father's passing, I wasn't ready to let go of someone else so near and dear to me. I feel though that I have gained understanding of the importance of God's timing and that His plans are so much better than mine could ever be. This was also a difficult time for Apple as she and Grandma had a close relationship. I feel like even though she is still sad and feels the loss, it has been a wonderful opportunity to show her a deeper understanding of Heaven.

On a personal note, I have lost 30 lbs this year and 3 pants sizes. Woohoo! I have gained a love for Zumba. I need to lose more weight and I hope to do so in 2011. I think this has helped me to see that it is perfectly acceptable to spend a little time and thought on myself and my health. It is so easy for me to engross every minute into my children and my husband. I know now that spending some time exercising is a great stress reliever and will help insure that my health will not one day prevent me from enjoying time with them. In all of that I have also seen this year how quickly just about anything worldly can become an obsession, eating, exercising, blogging, facebooking, television, reading. There are so many snares available to keep us from God. I hope in 2011 to be even more diligent about my priorities and just making certain that all things are done in moderation.

We have in a sense "lost" friends and family members to divorce this year. An alarming number really. We have seen many separations and rifts in marriages too. Satan loves to attack the family. He loves to bombard marriages. Please pray for yours and mine! It is so very easy to become selfish in marriage. It is so easy to start a line of thinking of "I deserve......" This was one of my statuses on FB earlier in the year "Do you work as hard at your marriage as you do your job? Do you treasure your marriage as much as your hobbies? Do you fight for it like you fight for your friendships? Do you pray for your marriage like you pray for your material desires? Do you love your spouse like Christ loves the church?" And these were the verses that played over and over again throughout the year Col 3:18-21 "Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged." Does Christ expect us to stay married? Absolutely!!! Does He expect us to be bitter and unhappy? No. BUT we are to live our lives in service to Him. Not for our own pleasure. Part of our service to Him is following scripture which clearly includes do not divorce. It is gut wrenching to see the father of 3 walk out because "he is unhappy." It is painful to watch him chose another woman and her child over his wife and children. It is heartbreaking to see a husband and wife chose hobbies, friends, and work over their spouses. It is terrible to see a wife chose revealing clothing and flirtation over her husband. Guard your marriage as you would a treasure. Choose to love your spouse everyday.

I have lost friendships over silly things, nothing at all, and some over reasons unknown to me. I try very hard to be a good friend. I try to be someone that is trustworthy, helpful, and a joy to be around. I try to give in every relationship expecting little in return. Sometimes however this just doesn't work. I have found this year that sometimes things just aren't going to jive. Do I expect everyone to be my best friend? Obviously not but I do treasure friendships. Growing up in the environment that I did, friendships were vital to my survival. As a teenager I could truly depend on my friends more than my own family in many situations. I, as most women, really value friendships. Other women that I can talk to, confide in, and bounce ideas off of, are really a blessing to me. Our choice as a family to walk out our journey with Christ has cost us some friendships. Our choices about homeschooling, traditions, and lifestyle have cost us some friendships. My specific choices in a few instances to choose my husband and children over friends have cost me. I will not apologize for those things. I will say that I am saddened by those losses. I carefully chose those that I draw closest to me (as I belive everyone should) and so friendships that have spanned 20 yrs, 10 yrs, and 3 yrs are big losses. I continue to pray that feelings will be restored and that healing will happen in all of those friendships. God has shown me that community and friendships are so important to our spiritual maturity. He has shown me what a blessing real true friends can be. Pray for your friendships, that they be strengthened by a love for Him!

I have gained a love for homeschooling, a new found respect for law enforcement, a host of new friends, a Panera Bread in my hometown (one of my favorites), and a renewed sense of awe for our Savior.


What have you gained or lost this year?

Semester Wrap Up

Whew so we are on our last week before the Christmas holiday! Woohoo! We have survived our first "real" semester of school! What a journey it has been! Fun and exciting, exhausting and mind warping, loud and rowdy! All of those things......

I have really enjoyed it though. There have been very frustrating difficult days but really the majority of them have sailed by. Apple has learned so much and I am very proud of her! She is reading with a vengence! She has completed both levels of Hooked on Phonics grade 1. When we begin again in January we are going to focus on reading several reader books to make sure that she is ready and then we will begin HOP grade 2. She is working her way through all of her math workbooks and we will continue those. She is well into her 1st grade Science book that we found last month. We have been studying the continents and she will be finished with those soon. She and I recently went to a singing Christmas tree play and performance and she LOVED it! She is so inclined to the arts. I am hoping to get a piano program soon.

Speedy is freezing as he does not like cold temps and it has been very chilly here! He will be performing in his playschool's Christmas program tomorrow. He is recognizing his name and beginning to learn his letters. We will continue working on letters and numbers at the beginning of the year. He enjoys playing and he is very excited about Christmas.

I am excited about the new year and the continuation of our homeschool journey!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Commercials

Dear Reebok, Victoria's Secret, Godaddy, and others,


I do not appreciate your commercials. I find them offensive. I find it very hard to allow my children in a room with a television on at all because of your commercials. Have your ad execs heard of modesty? Can you please tell me how mostly naked women are highlighting your Easytone shoes or websites? Victoria your secret should stay secret!! My 3 yr old and 5 yr old don't need to know those secrets! About 2 yrs ago we cut our cable back to only the first 22 channels due to shows and advertising. It is ridiculous, all times of the day and night, the filth that is on television. Really? The Reebok Easytone ad has got to be the worst offender right now. The whole commercial is shots of ladies rear ends in little more than underwear passing as shorts. You see more booty footage that shoe footage. I went to reebok.com and tried to lodge a complaint but 3 different times I filled out a contact form and 3 different times I was told to try again later. Guess they didn't want to hear my complaint.

I think that in our society today many people cry offense just to be heard crying. I rarely use the word at all because I do not want to be lumped into the group of cryers BUT it is offensive to me and to my family. We are raising our children to respect themselves and each other and that private parts are PRIVATE. We are teaching them morals and modesty. We have discussed totally cutting off the cable. It is that extreme. I don't think we should have to do that. I believe the MAJORITY of Americans would prefer commercials to be relevant to the product and not to be muddied with nakedness. I believe that the products would sell even if everyone in the commercial had all their clothes on.

While I'm on my soap box, I LOVE the NFL. Love it! (DA Bears) But seriously Football commissioners, your cheerleaders NEED more clothes!!! People would still watch your games. I'd even get more serious about taking my kids to a game. They aren't allowed to watch much football because the cheerleaders are naked, again the modesty issue. When did it seem necessary for them to wear little more than bikinis? My daughter loves cheerleaders. She is participating in upward Cheerleading this year but we cannot encourge her much in this area because they don't wear enough clothes! It starts young and gets worse and worse.

Okay that is my rant and I am through now.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Christmas Cheer

My husband asked this question in Sunday school this morning "How do you help your children focus on the true purpose of Christmas?" Well that's a paraphrase anyway! We compared our Christmases when we were children to the Christmas traditions or activities we do with our own children. In my childhood, Christmas was all about the materialism. I had a huge long list every year and every year my list was fulfilled. I cannot think of a single thing I asked for that I did not receive. I had, at various times, a pool, a pony, a power wheels car, every Barbie made, every Cabbage Patch available, dogs, clothes, the list could go on and on. In terms of material items, I was spoiled beyond belief! But how sad that I didn't really celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior. I spent a little time at church so I think I knew that was the reason for Christmas but we didn't focus on it at all.

For our kids it is evolving a little more every year. We don't "do" Santa, we spend lots of time reading the Christmas story and talking about Jesus. This year we traded the tradition of going to the local Christmas parade to instead go to watch a live outdoor reenactment of the birth of Jesus. We have been to a live nativity before, this was so much more! About a 25 minute production in the freezing cold from the perspective of Mary, Joseph, the shepards, and the wise men. It was fantastic! I think it was an amazing visual for our children. Also this year we are doing a Jesse tree as our Advent activity. Much better than the old paper chain for a Christmas countdown. Next weekend Apple and I will be going to a living Christmas tree production.

I think for us it is about being a little more purposeful every year in any ways we can incorporate. So what are you doing to direct your children to the true meaning of Christmas?