Summertime Refresh and Refocus {HEAV link up}

June is over and that means we are halfway through 2015. I honestly cannot believe that half of this year has passed. It has been a remarkable one. But along the way, as with any given year, I think most of us find we are in need of a refresher – something to help get our focus back to where it needs to be. This month, on the HEAV blog, I have written a few ways I have found that help me do this. It’s not a 100% guarantee-to-work post, but I hope that it gives you some encouragement to enter the second half of the year feeling rejuvenated and finish this year strong.

“…somewhere along the way, we always seem to fall off the horse. Even if it isn’t our yearly goals, it is the everyday monotony that we may feel trapped in. With summertime just arrived, it brings the halfway mark and seems to allow me a “second wind” that rushes through. It feels like a time to refresh myself emotionally and even spiritually and gives me an opportunity to refocus. I want to share with you now some of the things that help me, as well as share things I want to put into practice this summer.”

Click the link below to continue reading on the HEAV blog:

Summertime Refresh and Refocus

 

Summer-Relaxation

 

ENJOY your summer! Have a blessed second half of 2015!

To My Sister on Her High School Graduation

We are well underway in the graduation season of 2015. It is an exciting time for all high schoolers as they get ready to bid farewell to their life in school. As I sit here today thinking about my sister who will graduate in just over a week, I have a flood of thoughts that I want to say to her. I want all graduates to know this, actually.

So here it goes…

Dear-Lily

Dear Lily (and all high school graduates),

 

First off, congratulations!!! Wow, I was where you are just a few short years ago. High school really is no joke and it truly is a huge accomplishment graduating. You deserve a round of applause! Know that I am so proud of you and excited to see what will unfold in your life.

Now, you have probably gotten a slew of people telling you the sky’s the limit. You are free to make your own choices now. You can do whatever it is you want. Follow your heart’s desires and you will be happy in life.

 

But that’s not what I am here to say to you.

 

Following your heart is the last thing you should do. It is filled with earthly desires and will leave you feeling empty (Jer. 17:9). I know, I sound so droll. But I promise you that there is another option that will fill your new chapter in life with more meaning that you can. Follow the Holy Spirit. Yes, “you can do anything you want to do” sounds like a sweet sentiment, but you won’t be able to understand God’s will if you are focusing on your will; because truthfully, much of the time the two don’t match up. Oftentimes it takes us a little while to 1) know His will and 2) desire His will. There have been plenty of times when God changed my heart’s desire to align with His will. There have also been times when I wanted something and then The Lord said “No, that isn’t My plan for you” and I didn’t like it at first. I had to want God’s will and I had to ask Him to change my heart. We don’t want to understand this because we cannot comprehend the fact that only God can see the whole picture – we only have one puzzle piece. So here’s my challenge to you as you graduate and even far beyond through different seasons of life: ask God for Him to make His will your desire. All of the sudden you will start living in a radically different way. A more fulfilling way.

 

~

Challenge yourself.

 

If we aren’t careful, we will fall into this mindset of thinking that if it is God’s will it will happen easily. That is a lie. God often asks us to walk difficult paths. What we need to do is ask Him to light our way clearly and purpose to stay close by His side through prayer and devotion to His Word. Never back down from a challenge if you know that this is the Lord’s plan. He will be there right beside you the whole time, all you need to do is acknowledge His presence.

 

~

Follow God’s path for your life.

 

Seek His will: I cannot emphasize this enough. Seek. God’s. Will. It is sometimes a very difficult process to go through that takes time and even more waiting, but it is an invaluable part of the Christian walk. After graduating high school you have so many paths available to you. As you know, I took the path that lead me to stay home verses going off to college because that was the Lord’s will for me. However, that doesn’t mean that I don’t do anything. The Lord has lead me to do many, many different things that have stretched me and challenged me and I have the freedom to do that because of where God has placed me in this season of life. I wan that for you: freedom because your are in His will. Often I will read books or articles about girls who chose not to go to college and there is utter contempt for college-goers. “College is such a waste of time” is what I hear said frequently. Honestly, I think that is the worst thing they could say. College is a wonderful option – IF it is God’s will for you. There are many career paths that do require a college degree. However, if we really thought about it, many people do go straight to college simply because it is the next expected step. When, in fact, all they are doing is using up priceless years collecting debt and not serving God where He wants to use them. I think college is a waste of time for those who don’t belong there. I think college is also the best place you can be if it is where God is leading you. Always, always, always seek God’s will for your life – which may or may not include a college education.

 

Lean on Him instead of the opinions of others: I want to impress something on you. Never, ever let the opinion of any human being sit higher in your mind than what God has called you to do. It is absolutely impossible to make everyone you know approve of what you do. It will not happen. You must learn to lean on the Solid Rock and seek His approval rather than any other person, even if it is your best friend or a family member. Pray for guidance. Pray that those who are close to you will encourage and support you. But the most important thing to pray for is that God’s will be done in your life.

 

~

Don’t forget that the souls of men and the Word of God is what will last (not money, fame, etc.)

Ultimately, what I want you to understand is that you have the chance to make an impact to further the Kingdom of Heaven. Not that you didn’t in high school or any other stage in your Christian life thus far, because you most certainly did and I hope that you have taken advantage of times to spread God’s love ever since the time of your salvation. But now that you have finished your schooling and are entering a world that will let you do just about anything, I want you to remember that it is even more important now that you hold on to your Bible and God’s teaching. This is the time when you can rest assure twenty different things at any given moment will try to yank you into its (or their) direct and thwart you. A relationship, job, or college opportunity are good things, but only if they are from the Lord. Guard your heart from the temptation to accept any of these things if they are disguised as distractions to keep you from fulfilling God’s plan for your life. Remember that if anything looks enticing, but goes against God’s Word, you need to flee from it. As followers of Christ our ultimate goal should be to see others come to know our Savior, Jesus Christ. Do this by taking every opportunity to tell others about your Heavenly Father and living a life that is so unusual – because it is so full of Joy and Light – that they can’t help but ask what is different about you. Serve the Lord with passion. Rejoice in His name daily. Love others kindly, because by loving them you love the Lord.

 

I love you! I am so proud of all you have accomplished and I truly cannot wait to see what the Lord has in store for you next. Trust in the Lord with all of your heart (Prov. 3:5). Get ready for life after high school – it isn’t what I expected, but it is a wonderful ride when I have Jesus takin’ the wheel. ;)

 

~~~

 

(To everyone) In closing, dear graduate, I want to tell you how excited I am for you in this ending of one chapter and beginning of another. There are so many emotions that run through us when we graduate – of excitement and worry for the future. Always put your trust in the Lord and you will find the most fulfilling future, even if you don’t understand where it is you are heading at first. If you do know where you are heading next because the Lord has revealed that next step to you, then I am thrilled for you! Do your best and always give everything up to the Lord. Be brave. Be passionate. Be in love with Jesus.

 

Congratulations, graduate!

God bless you as you embark on your new adventure!

Love Anyway

Love

Other people’s behavior is not our responsibility, how we treat other people is. I pray that I can become better at loving others and treating them with kindness no matter their actions. This has been laid heavily upon my heart lately, but I continue to fail. Dear God, please help me. Help me to love like you love. Help me to remember that when you hung on the cross, you hung there bearing their sins AND MINE. I am no better than they. I am filthy. I am a wretched sinner. I am the one who put you there. And I need to love you with all of my heart and follow after your teaching because of it, which includes loving those around me anyway.

The Bible puts incredible emphasis on love.

It says to love the Lord our God with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength. That is the greatest commandment the Bible gives us. 

Matthew 22:37, “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.”

 

It tells us that love is the most important thing. 

1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV), “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

 

It tells us we need to love everyone. Even those who have done wrong towards us.

Matthew 5:44, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;”

 

To love others the way we need to is not possible for us to accomplish. It is deeply engraved in our heart to go into self defense mode when we have been attacked. We want to push back. Let them know that they cannot treat us like that and get away with it.

True, genuine, freely given love is a hopeless cause it seems.

But God embodies such a love. He IS such a love.

There is hope.

It is exclusively through God that I can love the way people need to be loved. No, it’s not easy. In fact, I will never achieve the perfect love. But I will never stop striving to be like my Jesus. He was the Perfect Love. He loved unconditionally. He loved everyone. As he hung on the cross and people spat in his face and scoffed, he loved.

The soul of a person is more important than their action. I need to remember that. It hurts. It doesn’t sound pleasant. It goes against the natural feeling of wanting to fight back. But it’s worth it. It’s right. It’s what God requires of me to do.

My mom often tells me that when someone hurts her, she feels God whispering to her to pray for them. It is painfully humbling. God loves them just as much as me. I need to love anyway.

Also, you may be thinking that just because we love someone we accept all they believe and we will have a relationship full of trust and mutual respect. That is not the case. Don’t love someone for what they believe or have done. Because if that is so I have a feeling no one would love anyone. But rather, love because they are a soul breathed by God. And if you have been hurt, loving them does not mean that you have to trust them on the same level. Trust is earned, love is freely given. Once that trust is damaged, it must be repaired. Love, on the other hand, must always be bestowed on them. God did not stop loving me when I spoke angrily towards someone, or talked about someone behind their back. I have to learn to love in spite of a fallen, sinful world. I want to strive to live a life of love.

I need to love anyway.

“Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” -1 John 3:16-18

You Will Get More Than You Can Handle

More.Handle

“God won’t give you more than you can handle.”  

That quote has been inspiring people for, well, I have no idea how long. It’s what we tell a sister or a friend when they are going through a difficult situation.

When they feel like they won’t make it any farther and we don’t know what else to do to comfort them we quickly say, “God won’t give you more than you can handle. Just remember that. You can make it. You can get through it.” I believed it and said it to several friends and my sisters when I was desperate to comfort them. But I look back now and realize I was lying.

If I have ever said that to you, I apologize so very much.

Because the truth is, you WILL be handed more than you can handle.

Life will be more than you can take. Conflict will arise and hurt will come from it that you won’t be able to heal from on your own. Unexpected tragedy could take place at any moment that you will be able to do nothing about. The everyday task of simply getting out of bed will become more than you can force yourself to do some days.

 

You won’t be able to handle it.

 

“I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” –John 15:5 (emphasis mine)

Nothing. There is nothing that I can do outside of Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior. I am weak and incapable. I know this to be true because of verses like John 15:5 in the Bible that tell me my human self is incapable of anything aside from the one Who created me.

If the famous phrase, “God won’t give you more than you could handle” were true, it would imply that we were able to do something without God. We would be able to handle that difficult situation. We would be able to handle the stress, the depression, the rejection, the hurting, etc. because we are strong enough. I don’t know about you, but I know I am not strong enough. God has shown me that I cannot. I believe that to be true with my whole heart; and because of the sacrifice He has made on my behalf I know that He is strong enough. Because of that I know that I need to lean on Him – my Solid Rock. If I were able to “handle it” I wouldn’t be such a terrible sinner in complete desperation for a Savior. I’d be able to save myself, because I can handle it. But as I have already said, that isn’t the case.

I believe with all of my heart that the reason God allows such tragedies and struggles into our lives is so that there is no other option but to bring our burdens back to Him. God wants to help us. He wants to save us and heal us from our grief. But if we think we can handle it, He’ll let us attempt it.

There is no possible way to, though.

I have got to fall down on my knees in surrender at the foot of the cross and LET GO of whatever is weighing me down. I have to cry out to the Lord to rescue me because I have learned that I do not possess the strength to do so myself. I am a weak child in need of her Abba Father. The Lord has been teaching me that even my faith in Him requires His own strength and not my own. I have learned that without Jesus Christ I truly am nothing. If I am truly nothing aside from Him, then I know that it is only through Him that I will ever handle anything that I encounter in life.

I find true comfort in surrender, though, because the Lord will be there for me at all times. He will pick me up out of the ashes and dust me off. No, he may not always choose to make my problems instantly vanish, because many times it is through the darkest days that we grow the closest to Jesus, but He will walk beside me the whole way through.

“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;  Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.  But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. ” -James 1:2-4 

I remember when I realized that just because bad things come doesn’t mean God isn’t there with me. These “trying of my faith” times are so important in my life because they draw me closer to God through continuous prayer and studying of the Bible. I have never and will never fear that I am alone because I have the Word of God to tell me that He is always near me.

I need to live a life of joy. Verse 2 says to be joyful even when faced with terrible circumstances. What a testimony it would be if people saw me living a truly joy filled life because of my Savior. Joy doesn’t mean bad things won’t happen, or that I will always be happy, it means that I am identifying myself with Jesus even when those bad things do come.

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” –Matthew 11:28

“Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” –Joshua 1:9

 

~

Shared at A Mama’s Story link up

This entry was posted on May 18, 2015. 1 Comment

Dear Homeschooling Mama {HEAV link up}

  This Mother’s Day I was honored to do a special blog posts just for the precious mamas in our lives – more specifically homeschooling mamas. They don’t have an easy task, but it is well worth it and I am incredibly grateful to my own mother who invested herself into me during my homeschool years and has continued to do so even after I have graduated. So this one is for you, Homeschooling Mama. I love you and appreciate what you do. Thank you.

“Dear Homeschooling Mom, When you were talking to your friends the other day at a homeschool get-together, I heard you say that there are some days when you feel like you are “ruining” me and my siblings; apparently many of your friends feel the same way. As I sat there listening, all I could think was, “How could that possibly be?” I understand it is hard work to homeschool. I see the stress and struggle it causes you some days. But I just want you to know how much I (and many, many other homeschooled children) appreciate what you do for us daily….”

~

-Click the link or picture below to read the rest of this post.

Dear Homeschooling Mama – From a Homeschooled Daughter

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A Mama’s Story Link up

Time-Warp Wife Link up

This entry was posted on May 10, 2015. 1 Comment

Early Morning Disruptions


I like waking up early each morning for several reasons, but the main reason is so I can get my quiet time (Bible reading, etc.) done before the hustle and bustle of the day begins in my rather large and noisy family.

There I am getting everything spread out on the kitchen table and preparing for a great morning in The Word and…… I hear my baby brother start to fuss, letting anyone who is awake know that he is up and ready to get out of bed. “You can’t be serious,” I think. I can feel the frustration rising. I was just getting started!

I get up and I take care of the baby. My mom could use the extra rest anyways. Raising nine children is no small task.

I am reminded of something. Maybe God intended for that morning’s time with Him to be spent through serving my little brother. I am reminded that I need to work on my attitude toward this situation now; because, Lord willing, someday I will have my own little ones who will disrupt my quiet time more often than not for a while. How I respond is important. It’s putting what I have already read and learned from the Bible into action:

Do all things without murmurings and disputings.” –Philippians 2:14

In EVERY THING give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”1 Thessalonians 5:18 (emphasis mine)

It was brought to my attention one night that this whole getting disrupted thing is something that Jesus understands. I mean, He understands absolutely everything that we go through. But it was quite comforting to know that I have the Perfect example on how to deal with disruptions – because Jesus experienced numerous disruptions during His ministry here on earth. He was constantly being disrupted. As He walked down the street with crowds of people following Him, someone would stop Him many times and ask for healing – like the blind man while Jesus was on the road to Jericho (Luke 18:35-43). Because He was always so patient when these disruptions came, beautiful things happened. The blind man could see because of Jesus’ healing power! This is just one example of many. What would happen if I chose to look at disruptions with patience and kindness? How much better would that be? It is wonderful to have Jesus as an example so that I can be encouraged in how to handle these situations that most of the time are viewed negatively. But what happens when one is washed in the blood of Christ and made new is their whole look on life needs to be Christ-like. So something that would normally be viewed as a set back, Jesus viewed as an opportunity to minister and share the light and love of His Father. That is exactly how I need to view disruptions.

Act with calm.

Act with patience.

Act with love.

Act like Christ would act.

I’m constantly reminding myself that I need to choose to look at this in a few different ways: as a training opportunity for myself in preparation for one day becoming a mother, and as a chance to let beautiful things happen through me because of the love of Christ that I hope and pray shines through me. I want to learn this lesson well so that when my own little ones wake up before I’m ready, much more often than the few times that my little siblings have done recently, I will be prepared to handle it gracefully and properly.

Not with frustration and anger. That only shows someone how much they are putting you out. But people are important. This is a hard lesson to learn. One that I think will take me a long time to learn, but it is one that is WORTH the time and effort it takes to view people and the disruptions that come with them as a positive thing – I would even dare to call it a blessing!

What disruptions are there in your life that you may need to work on seeing as being sent from God? Baby brothers waking up “too” early? Sisters needing help with school work? I hope we can learn together to view these as blessings in disguise… and even ministry opportunities, by putting aside something we hold valuable so that we might serve others.

 

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A Mama’s Story Link up

Time-Warp Wife Link up

This entry was posted on May 8, 2015. 1 Comment

Get Excited about 2015 HEAV Convention! Giveaway Winner!

I’ve been so happy to share with you all the exciting things there are to look forward to during Convention weekend this past week! All of my blog posts have been leading up to today’s post announcing the WINNER for the 2015 HEAV Homeschool Convention Family Pass!!

Now, there have been many entries and I have greatly enjoyed reading comments and seeing the response from this giveaway! Over 300 entries I had! But only one family can take this wonderful prize “home” today. I have been praying that the right family would be blessed by this giveaway and I feel sure that is what happened! So please help my in congratulating our winner…

 

HEAV Certificate_thumb[2]

 

ELIZABETH SHIELDS!!!

Congratulations! I hope that this giveaway will be a blessing to you, and even more so this upcoming convention will be an extraordinary blessing to you and your family. May it be filled not only with encouragement for your homeschooling journey, but I pray it lifts you up spiritually and rejuvenates your passion for home education and your little ones. It is the most important work you will ever do.

God Bless you! And enjoy the 2015 HEAV Homeschool Convention!

I want to thank you all for entering this giveaway! It is wonderful to see so many people get excited about home education. I hope to see you all in June! Look for me. :)