Monthly Archives: July 2013

Kids and School

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Well it’s that time again! School is back in session this week for a lot of students. My four year old, Eleanor will be attending Pre-K this year and that means I only have one year left to decided what I’m going to do; send her to public school or homeschool her.

I have several friends who homeschool their children and so they make it seem as though that is the right choice, but I’m not quite sure. Being in youth ministry, we have seen our fair share of homeschool and public school students. It seems like there are pros and cons to both. No, I don’t concern myself with the homeschool myths such as: they will be socially awkward if you homeschool them; they will have no friends; they won’t have the same opportunities. I know these to be myths because I interact with several homeschool kids right now that have plenty of friends, are very mature and athletic.

So here are my areas of concern. I have noticed that less homeschoolers go to college than public schoolers, at least the ones we have interacted with. This makes me sad. I’m not sure why, one guess is that they are introduced into the work force earlier because they control their schedules; therefore, they have less desire to go to school and would rather continue working and making money.

There are many benefits to homeschooling though. Being a family in ministry, it would help to homeschool because we could travel as we needed, it wouldn’t matter if we got back from church at ten p.m. on Wednesdays and Sundays because they could just sleep in a little longer the next morning. Also, I could control their curriculum and their social setting.

I have been a public high school teacher for five years so I know what public schools are like. Some can be amazing, I taught at one, and some can be horrible, yep taught at one of those as well. Both however struggle with large classroom size. Coming from the teachers viewpoint, it is near impossible to teach a new concept to a room of 35 students who are all on different levels. Either you end up teaching to the lowest level, and the high level students get bored and are not challenged academically, or you teach to the middle or high level students knowing there is not enough time to answers all questions or give enough time to practice before you have to move on so you can get in all that’s required for the year.

Also, I hear the conversations that happen among public schoolers, they are scary. I had one kid flippantly talk about being upset that his phone was taken away because now his source of porn was gone, and the amount of sexting that happens in high school is insane!

But public school does offer some awesome advantages. Students have to learn to work in a diverse group of people. They gain a lot of personal responsibility and they realize that a Christian lifestyle has to be a genuine personal desire or else they will fall into a dozen of temptations that are before them at school.

I don’t know which is right, I pray God will speak to my spirit about it over the next year and give me a peace in what is right to do. But I can give those of you who are parents and reading this some advice and this advice is coming from a teacher; be very involved in your child’s education. Go to parent-teacher meetings. Know what they are studying. Know who their friends are. Don’t be a stranger at the school. I have seen a close correlation over the years of teaching; students do better when their parents are involved. Almost all of the straight A, well behaved students I have taught, had very involved parents. These parents wanted to know when tests would be so they could make sure their kids studied. They would email me and ask how their child was acting in class.

So the answer to homeschool vs. public school may not be simple, but the no brainer when it comes to this next school year and all after is to be involved in your child’s education!

God Bless! Hope you have a great rest of the week.

Coming up on Friday: Flirt or Friend

Pure in Heart

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“Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8

I have heard often over the years, especially in church, that we should be pure in heart. But this has always seemed like just a nice Christian saying people use but rarely ever follow. I mean how is it even possible to be “pure in heart”? So I took a closer look into this topic to see what God desires from us and what He expects through a pure heart.

Quite often when I don’t understand the nuances of scripture I ask my husband, because he is a pastor, or I read sermons written on the topic that help break down the idea. I found a great sermon outlined on “Purity of Heart” on sermoncentral.com. If you have not checked out that website you should. Just type in the topic you’re wondering about and it pulls up all the sermons it has saved on that such topic.

The sermon I reviewed was written by Joseph Rodgers, and a lot of what I am going to say today comes from the information he put together.

“Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8. This verse is one of the BE-Attitudes listed in Matthew five.  Pastor Rodgers said that “each of these attitudes determines our altitude. They testify to our disposition and determination in life. Jesus offered these be-attitudes to remind us that God isn’t focused on man’s outward performance but with what is on the inside.”

The condition of our heart is very important to God, because unlike man, God can see into our inner core. He knows when we are just putting on an act and trying to appear our best. God doesn’t desire us to be like the Pharisees who were focused on the outward appearances and deeds.

Matthew 23:25-26 says, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.”

Purity of heart begins within. Pastor Rodgers said that, “A person with a passion for purity is one who has been cleansed in his character so that the way he looks in public is the way he is in private. You’re just like Jesus even when no one is watching.”

So knowing that, what do we do about it? How do we get our inside clean? For me, it started with prayer. I prayed for God to bring to my attention all of the impurities that are in my heart. Man that is a no fun prayer because it seems to be the one prayer God always answers! I started recognizing some junk in my life and in my heart that I needed to ask forgiveness for and then surrender to God. I started seeing a lot of shallowness in my compassion for others; I saw lots of selfishness and some envy as well.

My purification of heart has been an ongoing process for the last year and a half. I am in no way perfectly pure, but now I can say that I am striving daily to be closer to God, to be more like Christ and to be purer in heart.

“Since we’re surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with endurance the race marked out for us. Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1

This life we are living is much like a race. It is hard, and at times we all are going to get weary. But if we can fix our eyes on God, we can find strength through Him to get us past temptation. The things of this world are not worth losing an eternity to spend with our Father in Heaven.

“Blessed are those who are pure in heart for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8

We have such promise in that verse. Yes it is hard to live a life pure in heart because we have to constantly be examining ourselves. Making ourselves vulnerable before God, and even giving up some of the temporary pleasures of this earth, but in the end, if we endure, we will get to see God!

Have a Blessed Day!

Coming up on Wednesday:Kids and School

Self-love vs. Selfishness

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Okay ladies this is the last of our Self-love series. The reason I am spending the first four GirlTalks on self-love and what it looks like and why it is important, is because everything else we will talk about in this section will all line up in some way with how much we love, accept, and forgive ourselves.

Today I want to take a look at the difference between self-love and selfishness. A lot of ladies, and I’ve been there, adopt the mindset that if they do anything for themselves then they are being selfish. The definition of the word selfish is when someone is:  “devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one’s own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others.” Now I don’t know many moms who would fit this description. It would be much more accurate if you put the word child in place of oneself.

The truth is ladies, we quite often put ourselves so far down on the totem pole that we don’t allow ourselves the things we need, especially spiritually speaking. There has been weeks in a row where I have not opened my bible, and I have so easily accepted the excuse that I’m way too busy with the kids and the house. But in recent years I have learned that when I take some ‘me’ time, and more importantly, some ‘me and God’ time, I am a much better mom, wife and even housekeeper.

You see, self-love is not about putting ourselves on a pedestal, but rather it’s about allowing ourselves the time to pour out all that we hold in to our Father in heaven, and then allowing Him to pour back into us all that He knows we need right then and there.

We talked about accepting ourselves, forgiving ourselves and loving ourselves. Well it all begins by taking that you time with God. Being in His word, in prayer and in a place of peace where you can sit and rest and soak up His awesome love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23).

Having a healthy self-love is about realizing who God is and who you are in Him. So you can accept yourself just as you are because God does. So you can forgive yourself regardless of the past mistakes you’ve made because He does. So you can learn to love yourself, God’s creation, the one he chose to knit together because He certainly does.

Take time this week to do the most important thing you can for your family, your marriage and yourself; spend alone time with God.

Coming up on Monday: Pure in Heart

Be Blessed!

The Meal that Keeps on Giving

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Reader’s Question: “What are some healthy cheap meals I can make for my family?”

It’s hard to combine healthy and cheap at times, but if you are willing to put in a little more effort, I have found that it is possible.

One meal that I have started cooking this past year to accomplish my cheap yet healthy goal has been crock-pot chicken. I ran across this recipe idea on TheHappyHousewife.com. What you do is buy a young chicken from the store; I use Tyson Young Chicken (without the innards). I can usually find the Tyson Young Chicken for as low as four dollars for the whole chicken! That’s a great deal, especially since you get enough chicken out of it to make three meals. You can also find a twin pack for around eight dollars, that way you can cook one now and freeze one for later so when you are running low on the budget you have something that can get you the base of three meals and it’s already been bought!

Now cooking this crockpot chicken is VERY simple. As long as you have a crockpot, then you’re good. Here are the simple steps to making this chicken:

Step 1: Unwrap the chicken and remove the bags of innards, if you bought one that included the innards (I do not, it’s cheaper that way).

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Step 2: Give the chicken a quick rinse. (The money you save is worth having to handle a dead bird!)

Step 3: Place the chicken in a crockpot that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. You do not need to add any liquids, just the chicken.

Step 4: Sprinkle your favorite spices on the chicken. I usually use Nature’s Seasoning. Then place the lid on top, set on low and walk away for seven or eight hours.

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Seven hours later you have a cooked chicken ready to eat!! But you don’t just have a cooked chicken, you also have the juice left over in the crock-pot which is easily turned into your very own low sodium chicken broth. Just add about five cups of water and let it cook on the low setting. Then drain the bones and store the liquid and there you go, free homemade chicken broth!

After you have served the chicken for dinner, I serve it alongside some fresh veggies, then pick off the rest of the chicken and refrigerate. I usually make my homemade chicken pot pie and some chicken salad sandwiches out of the leftover chicken. You can also make some easy chicken casseroles as well.

If you want more great ideas on how to save in the kitchen keep reading! Also check out thehappyhousewife.com!

Have a blessed week!

Coming up on Friday: Selfishness vs. Self-Love

Worship

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Reader’s Question: Is there a right way to worship God?

When most people hear the word worship they usually think of singing. And though singing is a major way to worship God, there are also many other ways as well. The question being addressed today is, “is there a right way to worship God?” Well before we can answer that question we need to figure out what worshiping God is all about.

I have been in church for many years; I started out as a child attending a Methodist church and then as a teenager I went to a large Nondenominational church and throughout my adult years I have attended Pentecostal churches, mostly Assembly of God based, so I have seen lots of different ways of worshiping God. I have seen people completely connected to God in genuine worship and I have seen people either totally disconnected to worship or faking it with the best of them. So what makes worship real and right?

Throughout the bible you can see people worshiping God through rejoicing. I know I have certainly shouted several Hallelujahs in my days while worshiping the creator of everything. To me, it is hard to not verbally express my adoration for the one who not only created the Heavens and the Earth but also gives me peace when my kiddos are on my last nerve. But besides rejoicing I have seen people worship God in reverence.

John 4:24 says, “God is spirit, and His worshipers must worship Him in the Spirit and in truth.”

To me, worshiping God in the Spirit is easy because that involves my emotions. When I am happy I can stomp out the best worship jig you’ve ever seen, but what about when life stinks? How am I able to continue worshiping Him then? That is when the “worship in truth” steps in. It’s when you praise God despite your circumstances because you know He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He has not changed; He is not shaken nor surprised by our state of being. The truth of His words still stands, so I can still worship.

This past year my ability to worship in truth was tested. I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 32 weeks pregnant. This was the second time I have had cancer. The first time I was eleven and I had bone cancer. Now I know I had made a deal with God at some point saying something like the following, “okay God I got through cancer the first time and I have given up a lot because of it, so from now on keep me healthy. I know you won’t allow me to get cancer again, right?” So when I found myself staring a broken deal in the face and the fear that comes with sickness, I had a decision to make. Was I only going to worship God in the good, or would I be a true worshipper?

I chose to worship God in Spirit and in truth. And I think that is what true worship looks like. It’s not all about the how, but the why. Why do you worship, because you’re happy, or is it because you have decided to be a follower of Christ and regardless of the here and now, you have chosen to give God your best.

Worship involves rejoicing regardless of the circumstances in our life; being reverent before the God of the universe, taking the time to pour ourselves out before Him and abiding in Him until He fills us back up. Worship isn’t a moment, it’s a lifestyle. It’s about aligning all that you do and all that you are to God.

I hope you all have a blessed week.

Coming up on Wednesday: The meal that keeps on giving

Forgiving Ourselves

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There are days I wish I could just turn off my head. Ever been there? I can still find myself thinking about the handful of stupid things I did in college that I wish so badly I could just erase from my existence. I think about all of the times I have allowed myself to waste instead of seeking after God.

Rather than focusing on the here and now, and what Christ has done and is currently doing in our lives we so easily look back at where we have been and what we have done and say to ourselves, “you don’t deserve x, y and z. You’ll never be anything. Your past will always depict your future. You’ve already blown it big time so why even try.”

I have found it a lot easier to forgive others than it is to forgive myself.

Why is it so hard to forgive ourselves? Why can we look at someone else and point out all the good that God has done in their life and how far they have come, but we look at ourselves and still see yesterday’s junk? Things God has forgiven us for but we still hang on to because we can’t believe that we could ever be removed from that choice, that mistake, that year of stupid, from the rebellion that has led to self-hate.

Psalms 103:12 says, “He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.”

When we go to God in genuine repentance, and we turn from the sin in our life, He wipes us clean. It’s hard to fathom that the one who could, and has every right to, hold us accountable chooses to forgive. And He not only chooses to forgive, but He sacrificed His only son so He could do just that.

Because of that amazing sacrifice, we do not have to be who we were before we knew Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” That is an amazing verse full of hope and excitement, but it is also very clear as to how we become new; we must belong to Christ not participating in the ways of our old sin. We can’t have one foot in God and one in the world and hope to become new. But once we fully surrender ourselves to Jesus Christ, then we belong to Him and are made new.

So maybe you are at the point in life that you have fully given yourself to God; you are no longer participating in the past sins that have you feeling so stained, but you still feel as though what you have done will keep you from doing or living a certain life. For example, if you got pregnant outside of marriage from either a relationship or one night stand you will always have the responsibility of loving and caring for that child. You will also have that baby’s daddy in your life in one way or another. Even if he isn’t there, his absence is still a part of your life and the life of your child. So you might find yourself thinking, how will I ever enter into a Godly relationship. Who is going to want to marry me? Or, how can I be used at church? People will just see my past sin instead of God.

The fact is that yes we are forgiven but we will have to live with the consequences of our sins, but “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). God can take our junk and use it for good. He can take us as we are and align us back to His will, using everything in our lives to bring honor and glory to Him. He can take a person who used to be a drug addict and use them to reach people I could never reach because I don’t understand what that kind of addiction is like. This does not give us an excuse to sin, but rather it gives us another reason to praise God! For even when our lives are full of sin, God still sees His child whom He longs for. He is still able to use us in mighty ways.

King David, in the bible, was called the man after God’s own heart; yet, he committed adultery and had the husband killed to try and cover his sin. But God was still able to use him in powerful ways. But David went to God, repented and then moved on and allowed God to continue working in him and through him.

Accept God’s forgiveness in your life. Know that yes you are a sinner, for we all have sinned and fallen short, but you are also a child of God who can be used by God in mighty ways. Repent. Walk away from those sins. Move on and allow God to use you. Take the focus off of yourself and put it on the cross.

I hope you all have an awesome weekend.

Coming up on Monday: Worship

Clutter Killer

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Clutter. I Hate Clutter! Clutter is a killer. It’s a killer of peace, of romance and sometimes even kindness.

Okay so truth is, I have an eight month old, a four year old and a husband so my home is very familiar with clutter. Sometimes it seems as though everywhere I look I see a highchair, a toy, an Xbox controller and all of its lovely cords or stacks upon stacks of junk mail and bills that have not been filed. At times, my fridge was dying a slow death to drowning in preschool art projects; my couch was overrun with this week’s unfolded laundry, and let’s not even talks about dishes!

It’s almost like my clutter became an outward symbolic, yet annoyingly tangible appearance of how busy, tired, overwhelmed and sometimes just plain lazy our lives were.

I know for a fact that when my house was full of clutter and mess, my patience with my husband and kids was a LOT shorter. Clutter is a killer of peace. My family would come home after three or four days in a row of being very busy and we would try to relax and have some good family time, but we couldn’t because my house did not promote the peaceful environment we needed to rest and enjoy each other.

There were even times when my husband and I were in “the mood” and it lasted all the way to the bedroom, until we started tripping on dirty clothes and moving toys out from under us on our bed. I remember feeling so frustrated that night. All I wanted was a few moments of romance with my husband but once again it was killed by clutter.

Clutter has also been a culprit in causing unkind words to be shared within the four walls of my home. When your house is a mess and filled with clutter, it is hard to feel at ease with each other.

So obviously I had a problem on my hands that I was either going to solve or it was going to get the best of me. Our clutter problem started to be resolved around the same time I implemented a schedule for my four year old. The schedule helped with the mess because I was now finding one to two undisturbed hours of cleaning a day. And as for the clutter, I researched some easy ways to start clearing out the chaos. One thing I did was I took a weekend and went into each major room of my house with either a garbage bag or box. The point was that I had to fill up the bag or box with items I no longer needed. Items I had not touched or used within the last year. I got rid of at least 15 old t-shirts from my dresser. I was holding on to them for sentimental purposes only. However, those extra non-needed and never worn shirts were keeping me from neatly storing the shirts I did wear. And if it’s a memory from a shirt you’re trying to keep, then start a cloth scrapbook. Just cut out the main part of the shirt that shows the memory and put it in a scrapbook. Put pictures that go along with the shirt and maybe write a paragraph to shares those memories. Now, you haven’t lost the memory but you have saved your space.

I also bought some simple and cheap storage and organizational tools to help with paper clutter, to organize our shoes and to keep the laundry room and bathrooms neat and tidy as well.

If feels so good now, knowing that after a busy day my family can come home to a clean and much less cluttered home than before. My home is by no means Martha Stuart approved, but now if I start to see clutter and messes build up I recognize the importance to taking the time and putting things away, throwing things out and adding organization where it is needed. And at the end of my busy day I actually get to rest and enjoy my family, and that makes it all worth it!

Coming up on Friday: Forgiving Ourselves

Be Blessed!