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

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Word of the Year 2017

I have had a Word of the Year each year since 2010! That's a pretty good run if you ask me. :) Some years have been filled with success and others were not. I've decided I won't have a Word of the Year for 2017. I thought I would. I prayed and pondered.

I tried to force a word just so I'd have one. The best word I could come up with is "Better". Hmph. Not too exciting. Didn't really fulfill what I want and expect for 2017. I think it's just not meant to be for this New Year.

I still have plans and goals in mind. I have lots of things that I hope will improve in the New Year. I'm always setting goals and stretching and reaching for new things (otherwise I get bored!). Honestly though I feel expectant about 2017. There are changes already happening and changes coming. I don't want to get so stuck on my own goals that I miss out on what the Lord has planned for us. I don't want to be so busy sticking to my plans that His plans go unnoticed.

I don't disparage any of you with Words and goals for 2017! In fact...I wish I was one of you! That's my comfort zone. A plan of action. A specific goal to meet. Then it feels a little like I'm in charge. This just isn't the season for that for me though I guess.

So I can't make you any broad promises. I don't know what the blog will look like in 2017. I already shared that I wasn't joining The Schoolhouse Review Crew this year (sob...still sad). I hope to keep writing and sharing with you some.

For now, for this last week of 2016 (feeling a little sense of relief that we've almost made it to the end!), I'm rearranging our school room and praying over our school days for this new semester. We need some renewal. Some fresh perspective. A change of pace.

Where are you at this week? Do you have your Word of the Year or goals locked down? Are you prepping for the New Year and new semester? Do you feel dread or expectation about 2017?

Friday, December 23, 2016

This Christmas Season

This Christmas season has been a little different for us. The kids aren't in any sports. We are still visiting churches so there were no practices or special programs this year. "Regular" life (work, school, etc.) has kept us busy so we haven't felt like we had a lot of downtime, but there definitely hasn't been the super crazy, frenzied rush that we feel most years. We've still stuck with some of our favorite traditions- local Christmas parade, lights at a local State Park, time with family and friends.

I've missed some of the things that we didn't participate in this year but I've enjoyed the slower pace. Even with the slowness, I've barely finished all my shopping and Christmas prep in time. I got out the Christmas cards but all the decorations never made it out of the attic. We fixed treats for neighbors but didn't get any lights on the outside of the house. The house is tidy, but there hasn't been time for my normal big cleaning days.

The older I get the more I realize that things will carry on and seasons will come and go but they aren't going to look the same every year. I'm hoping Christmas next year will be different...but the same...if that makes sense to anyone else. I want my beloved traditions to remain, but I hope we are involved in a local church. I want to do all my decorating and prepping, but I want plenty of time to spend with family and friends. I want my kids to be enthralled with the season but not as wild and crazy as they have been this year. Ya know...

I read a version of The Christmas Carol and read it aloud to them. That was fun and new for us. Sometimes one little new thing can make the season feel complete.

Has your Christmas season been the same or different this year? Are you ready for Christmas?

A Merry Christmas to each of you who read this. May the peace and love of Jesus surround you and your family.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Hospitality Update

As 2016 comes to a close, it's fun to look back at my word of the year and reflect. I wanted to make hospitality a priority in 2016. There were successful months and some less successful months. All in all, I believe we had a great number of people in our home at various times, and I think they all felt welcome and comfortable here. While hospitality won't be my #1 goal for 2017, I hope the things I have learned will carry on.

I knew going into this challenge I set for myself that I would need to keep the house in better order. While I have always been a neatnik, part of hospitality is always being prepared for company. I've settled into a reasonable routine this past year. I finally have an attack plan that keeps my house neat and tidy most of the time. The kids each received more chores this year so they have lightened my load. Keeping a loose cleaning schedule is working for us. I pick a day (usually Saturday or Monday) and spend about 3 hours picking up and cleaning the house. Then the kids and I take on jobs throughout the week to maintain the house.

One thing that took me nearly a year to figure out is that I also need to have myself at ready. A few weeks ago I realized I'd feel better (and more prepared) if I would get up and get dressed and fixed up each day. I've gone back and forth in this area (much as I have a regular house cleaning schedule). The first advice I've always given stay at home moms who are struggling is to get up and get ready every morning. There's something about a shower, fresh clothes, and dry hair that makes us feel more prepared for the day. When we first moved to this little town, I realized people might drop by more often. I got caught in my bath robe several times. I went through a short time of getting up and readying myself each day. Sometime after we bought our home and moved again, I lost the habit. It can be a difficult task depending on which schedule Hubby is working. Now that there are specific days that we have to go out of the house and so I know I must get ready those days. I recently realized I would be more motivated during the week if I'd just get up and get ready. It makes a difference for sure. I hope I can stick with it so I won't be embarrassed when someone pops in for a visit! It's a tough challenge some days though especially as the weather is getting colder!

While the month isn't quite finished, we've done well with hospitality this month. We had a gathering earlier in the month, and we will have a number of family members in and out in the next couple of weeks. We won't be hosting any other large Christmas gatherings, but we will enjoy the hospitality of others as we attend some!

It was fun this year to have a quantifiable goal that I feel like I met. It was nice to reflect back each month and give you all an update. I'm still praying and pondering over a word for 2017. At this point, I'm not sure there will be a word!

How did you do for your goals in 2016? Do you have goals already set for 2017?

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

A Different Set of Scripture for the Season

At Christmas time, we tend to focus on the traditional verses about the birth of Jesus. During this special season of Advent it seems we return to those same verses again and again. Prompted by a sermon I heard over the weekend, I opened my Bible to 1 Peter 1 this morning. It seemed like a good place to begin the day with the Lord. As I read over the familiar words, I felt like they were just what I needed for this time of year. I thought perhaps some of you might need them today too. I've enhanced the words that spoke to me the most in this season.

1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ:
Grace to you and peace be multiplied.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.
10 Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, 11 searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. 12 To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things which angels desire to look into.
13 Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; 15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”
17 And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. 20 He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you 21 who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
22 Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, 23 having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, 24 because
“All flesh is as grass,
And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass.
The grass withers,
And its flower falls away,
25 But the word of the Lord endures forever.
Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.

"In this you greatly rejoice, though for a little while now, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials..."
Haven't we all been in those seasons? It feels very much like my family has been grieved by various little trials all throughout 2016 but especially in the last few weeks. Most of them are minor annoyances but all piled together I have had moments of despair and hopelessness. I never stay in that place long though because my faith does find me praising, honoring, and glorifying Jesus Christ who brings us so many blessings each day. 
If you find yourself in a season of hopelessness, in a time of despair, turn to the Word of God. Rekindle your faith. Look around for your blessings. Don't dwell in the dark places but rejoice in the light of our Savior and the beautiful message of His birth. 

Monday, December 5, 2016

Gained and Lost

This was a post from 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?

It's amazing how many of these words are just as fresh and valid as they were 6 years ago. So many of the things are the same. Loss of loved ones, loss of friendships, and loss of marriages around us. When I reflect on these things, it seems like we can never do enough. We must be in prayer and conversation with those we care about. We must be about the Lord's business sharing His word with those around us. Of course to share His word, we must be in His word memorizing it and studying it daily. 

I'm still praying over my Word of the Year for 2017. I've looked back over previous years, and I've been thinking ahead to the things I'd like to accomplish in 2017. I think one reason it is taking me longer to find my word is because I want to make sure the end result will be pleasing to the Lord and not just to myself. While I always pray about the choices and my goals, I want to make certain this year that it will bring glory to God in some way. 

Have you chosen your word of the year yet?