Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Grace For Me

Grace For Me
Words and Music by Michael Gungor and Michael Rossback

This jar of clay and all its weakness;
Somehow inside dwells Your fullness.
Even though I’m not yet flawless,
You are forming me.

Your grace for me is all I need
All I need is here
Your grace for me
Is all I need
All I need is here

Everything that I desire really may not meet my needs.
Help me to seek first Your kingdom.
You’ll provide for me.

Your grace for me
Is all I need
All I need is here
Your grace for me is all I need
All I need is here

Valleys come and tears aren’t dry yet and there are things I don’t yet see.
But I’ll rejoice despite of hardship; You’ll watch over me.

Your grace for me is all I need
All I need is here
Your grace for me is all I need
All I need is here
Your grace for me is all I need
All I need is here
All I need
All I need is here in You

Monday, August 26, 2013

1st Corinthians 13 for Moms

If my child speaks in the tongues of men or of angels, masters sign language at six months and Spanish and Mandrin Chinese by six years, but does not learn to love, she is only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If he has the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge-ABCs at a year, reading by two, writing chapter books in Kindergarten-but does not have love, he is nothing. If I volunteer for every mommy ministry-MOPS, AWANA, Sunday School, and if I give all I possess to the poor (or at least bring loads of groceries to the foodbank), but do not have love, I gain nothing.
 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy other mother's lifestyle choices or possessions, it does not boast in the areas of my children’s natural strengths (while covering for their faults), it is not proud of the way my child potty trained before your child. It does not dishonor others by insisting that my method of parenting is the best, it is not self-seeking-hoping that you’ll notice how smart, talented or well rounded I am raising my child to be. It is not easily angered by perceived slights or misjudgments, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth that all of parenting is fueled and driven by God’s grace. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails-even where I have fallen painfully short of God’s best for my children. But where there are competitions to see whose body bounces back best after childbirth, they will cease; where there are verbal fights over the correct methods of discipline, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge about the best way to feed and clothe and nurture a child, it will pass away. For we know in part and we parent incompletely, but when they are fully grown, what we thought we knew about raising our children will disappear. When I was a new parent, I thought, spoke and reasoned with immaturity and without grace. As my children grew, I asked God to give me the wisdom to put these childish ways behind me. For now we see our children’s future as only a reflection as in a mirror; one day we will behold their adults selves face to face. Now I know in part; then we shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

 by Katie Loveland

Friday, August 23, 2013

Friday: I Will Rise!

I love this SONG...not so much the video per se. It has been a real encouraging reminder to me. Also...please note the verse at the end is when Jesus was talking to Martha before raising Lazarus from the dead...not to the prostitute in the video. He told her to go and sin no more!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Thoughtful Thursday

On a particularly dark day, when Satan was having a heyday making me feel hopelessly judged and desperately alone...(unworthy, unloved and purposeless), I Googled "christians that choose not to homeschool" and read Sarah's LONG post.  I found a perfectly struck chord in my heart, played LOUDly...and tears continue to pour down my cheeks.  As I told her via e-mail, I won't try to re-invent the wheel...I'll just link obnoxiously to her post...and share some quotes from her and Grace Based Parenting by Dr. Kimmel....that she shared in her post.  Toldja I'd link obnoxiously!

I know it's surprising to many who know me as strong and opinionated...extroverted to the max...but sometimes I hurt and I need encouragement and a loving reminder why Darren and I follow God's personal call to us to public school our children...and why following God is ALWAYS the best choice!

These following words could have come from my own lips...REALLY!  But they came from Sarah...HERE...

I’ve wanted to write this post forever, but it’s hard to figure out how to word it.  Homeschooling vs. Public School is such a touchy topic in our culture these days.  I read SO MANY blog posts – especially in adoption circles – of people that tell why they are homeschooling and share their passion for it.  I think it’s great that these moms have a calling from the Lord and the courage to obey. 

The only thing that bothers me in some of these posts are the varying themes of how horrible public schools are, homeschooling is the only option if you are REALLY a Christian mom or want REAL Christian kids, if you REALLY love your kids and want to spend time with them you’ll homeschool, if you’re not a lazy mom you’ll homeschool, etc, etc, etc.  Those aren’t verbatum quoted messages, but they are kind of an underlying tone of many of the pro homeschool posts.  I think most homeschool moms don’t intend for that to happen, but I’ve talked with LOTS of public school moms who get that message.  I don’t understand why it seems to be okay to put down public schools when pointing out the positives of homeschooling.  When reading someone’s “Why I Homeschool” post, I occasionally think I’m supposed to feel that I’m an ”inferior” mom after I get finished.  I know that’s not what ANY of those moms intend (I hope).  I do believe that 95% of them are just so passionate about what they are doing that they would like everyone to grasp hold of it.  Or they want to encourage those wannabe homeschool moms that think they can’t do it to show that they really can.  And I totally get that.

But somewhere in there, I’d like to speak up for public schooling.  I have some good, solid reasons about why we are NOT homeschooling – some will agree with them and others will not – but I feel like moms who are choosing to do public school should have the encouragement that it can be a great choice for your kids.  You don’t HAVE to homeschool to be a great mom or to have kids with a strong faith.  In fact, there are lots of benefits in sending your kids to public schools.  So, I’d like to try to share those reasons for those that may feel a little guilty for not homeschooling.  But my intention is NOT to bash homeschooling either. 

All this is my little intro to say that I’m just giving another perspective.  I have MANY close friends who are also wonderful mothers who homeschool.  I have seen successful homeschool situations produce some effective and insanely wonderful Christian leaders in our society.  So please don’t think I’m against homeschooling.  I’m not.  But I do want to share the pros of public schools.

Then the examples she gives are so eerily like mine that I won't even elaborate.  Much.

She addressed the "wasted time" premise that schooling can be done in less time at home...

But those extra 3 hours aren’t just sitting around doing nothing.  Yes it would take me longer to do my lessons as a teacher of 30 kids than it would if I was teaching 1 child (or 5!).  But, a lot of the “extra” time involves some serious life lessons.  It’s time spent with other kids who MIGHT NOT be just like my kid.  They may have vastly different backgrounds, vocabularies, and (gasp!) they might not even go to church.  That’s okay!!  Kids have to learn how to work with people who are NOT like them and who DON’T share the same beliefs as they do.  I know when I went off to do my first jobs, it was not with people who were all white Republican Christians with godly language and godly lifestyles.  Some of them I downright didn’t like, but I knew how to work with them because I’d had 13 years of public school to figure out how to deal with those that are different from me BEFORE I entered the real world. 

She addressed the "greenhouse your children" thang...
Some on the homeschooling side argue that Kindergartners to 4th or 5th grade is too young to be salt and light.  But, [my kid] is not having to be salt and light to drug dealers and gang bangers who party and drink it up in their parents’ basement in 1st and 2nd grade.  Her big differences now may be some different words or seeing that someone’s home life is different from hers or a child who hasn’t learned the same manners or values about how to treat one another.  I’m okay with her being exposed to that in an age appropriate dosage.  I pray regularly for her mind and heart to be protected from the things she isn’t ready to hear.  Do we believe in the power of prayer??

On fear...and oh am I ever feeling the fear mongering ya'll...

“Speaking of fears, if your child attends the public school system, a grace-based family makes it easier for him or her to succeed because you aren’t intimidated by the inherent shortcomings inside the public school system.  And if you aren’t afraid of what’s out there, it’s a lot easier for your children to thrive spiritually inside the antagonistic environment they might encounter at school.” 

Dr. Kimmel believes today’s postmodern society has caused Christian parents to allow their fears of losing their children to the world to define how they raise their kids.
“Many families see how corrupted the culture is, how evil Satan is and how fragile the kids are,” he explains. “That’s when your fears define your strategy. But it is a bankrupt plan: it’s a contradiction to everything we say we believe. If we are followers of Jesus Christ, we should be the last people afraid of just about anything!”

He says Christian parents are “scared to death” of public arenas like Hollywood and the Internet and he believes the detrimental message this fear sends to kids is that God is not big enough to protect them.

His alternative? Raise kids in the midst of the world, instead of teaching them to fear it. The most important way children learn to exercise grace with those around them is to see their parents do it with confidence that the Lord will follow through.

“Your actions should say, ‘We love our unbelieving friends,’ ” Dr. Kimmel prescribes. “When kids are younger, we protect them more. But as they grow, we need to bring them up to speed and trust that ‘the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world’ (1 John 4:4). We want to raise our kids to glow in the dark and show people how to love others and be gracious.”

And Lastly...if you don't read anything else read this...
I know some people are called to homeschool because they are passionate about it and they have kids that have some special circumstances where they need to be homeschooled.  I support many of my friends that are doing it.  But, I think there are many valid reasons for public school too.  I think there should be more mutual support between the two camps.  Do what you’re called to do and recognize that others are called to do different things.  Don’t judge if someone is not doing it “your way” or doing what you’re called to do.  And let’s all be careful about how we voice our beliefs about our passions.

I’ve been really working on this verse this week – working on it permeating my heart – and my mouth.  Proverbs 12:18 “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”  I pray our words regarding our passions (homeschool vs public school, adoption, politics, stay at home vs working moms, etc) will bring healing and unity and not hurt and dissension.
I feel utterly sensitive about this right now...so puh-leaze...in the comments....if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.  Yes, this from the girl who gets tons of comments, right?  

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Wednesday Hodgepodge!

1. What's your worst food memory?  How about one of your best?
Worst---when I got food poisoning mid week during VBS.  Still haven't been able to eat that Asian Chicken Salad since.  Best---anytime I try something new...it's so exciting and usually amazing.  Let me put it this way...Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern...yeah, we could be serious buds.  If we ever actually met, of course.  LOL!
2. Do you appreciate people telling it like it is, or would you rather a speaker temper his/her words and maybe beat around the bush a little?  How about when you're the one communicating...which type are you?
I'm learning to do better at choosing my words carefully...mostly because I'm finding that people seem to think that because I'm outgoing and have firm convictions...(yes, I'm extroverted)...that I don't have feelings and they can shoot me with darts whenever it pleases them and that they are somehow justified cuz well, I'm me.  Yeah, this is a post for another time...I could go for some more thoughtful encouraging comments right now...thanks.  Nothing like having your feelings hurt to gain perspective though...and if God wants to teach me more about guarding my tongue, than He surely has much to work with there. 

3. What's your favorite place to hang out?
Hang out?  Darren and I love going to Yats, a cajun creole place with mardi gras decor...so surprising if you know our nerdy selves...but the food's GREAT and it's low key.  When we feel like dressing up, we go downtown to an Indian Restaurant with white tableclothes and amazing food.  Quiet and Calm!

4. When do you most feel like you're a slave to time?
When I have to connect from one thing to the other smoothly...like bus to piano lesson to dinner to bath to bed.

5. What was the last concert you attended?  Who'd you go with? Was it any good?
It's been a while...for our anniversary a few  years ago we went downtown for a Christmas concert at the Cathedral.  It was nice but I had a cough and thought I'd explode trying to be quiet!  Funny what I remember.

6. Reality TV...harmful or harmless?  What's your guilty pleasure when it comes to reality TV?
Let me put it this way...I've been really interested in pondering reality TV and Hunger Games as our future.  See?!  Interesting...just sayin'  Food for thought.  I don't really get into it...my life's real enough, thanks.

7. What's something you think is overrated?
Facebook...connection with all your friends...all.the.time...Again, a post for another time!

8.  Insert your own random thought here.
I'm posting a doozy tomorrow.  Yup.  Wrote it...gonna proof it...scheduled it.  After my hiatus from blogging this summer...I'm finally thinking in "blog" again.  As you can tell...there are many things on my mind...probably better left un-blogged as far as emotional and heartfelt and boring to others...but sometimes the cathartic process of hashing them out in a respectful way via blog is just what the Doctor ordered.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tuesday Tute: Vanity Table & Area

I've had this pretty, antique-mirrored vanity for at least a year now. It's been cluttered and crazy. I've had ideas but finally put them into action this week! I knew I needed a good way to organize my jewelry and make up without blocking all the reflective glass.  I also had some old mirrors I wanted to display on the walls!
I used 3M hooks and a ruler to make my necklace wall. I am LOVING it. Ahhhh...organization! The fabric wasn't quite big enough to go all the way around...so (shhhh) I cheated and put a cream panel in the back to make it work!  Hehehe!

I found a great tutorial for skirting a vanity table HERE...I loved this lady...she was a real person...and not trying to be all "perfectly scripted and professional"...I love this cuz it made me not feel so intimidated!!  I'd find myself wanting to meet her...since I watched this a couple of million times before actually doing it!  HA!

I'm glad I finally completed this project. I plan to add some verses about "seeing in a mirror dimly but someday face to face" and others scattered around the mirrors on the walls.

Monday, August 19, 2013

If You Give A Mom a Monday...

...she'll recap the weekend Hello Kitty party she threw for her sweet baby girl.

We started with some glittery, pink letter making!  Woo woo!!!
Then we "pinned the bow on the Kitty"...
...played a rousing game of "pink cup races"...
...and "hot potato Kitty!"

We then had cake, ice cream and present opening!!!!
We even had some time for dress up and playing together!
Overall, a delightful party...Great helpers (thanks to my MIL) and just the right size! Not sure I want to do a party every year...but it went just fine. Hello Kitty temporary tattoos were GREAT prizes...and all the kids went home happily covered in them!! LOL! Best of all my sweet 8 year old was VERY happy!!

Monday, August 5, 2013

If You Give A Mom A Monday...

If your daughter outgrows the skirt you made for her birthday...before the birthday party...

...and  if you've already made a book cover out of the matching fabric...
...you'll have to find another sparkly girly fabric and add four more inches. Phew...

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Sew Saturday: Tube Top Pillowcase Dress!

I got this light yellow tube top for a dollar at a garage sale. It has slightly raised polka dots on it and I thought it was sweet. 

The vintage pillow case 'set' was another dollar at Goodwill.  (I'd already used one pillowcase to make a little pillowcase for my Grandpa's neck pillow.) 

 I was feeling crafty...mwahaha...and thought it'd make a cute dress for Emmer-bean.
She was NOT thrilled with how the tube top felt inside (rough) and when she tried it on we realized it was seriously see-through. Yikes.
So, I remembered this remaining solo vintage pillow case...and I cut it open along it's seams after hacking four inches off the side. I made two straps and 'lined" the tube top with the remaining pillowcase.

I pulled up about three inches in the front to form a more modest neck line. Then I tied a bow in the back leaving the pillowcase's original hem ends. 

I liked that it showed it's original re-purposed-full-ness!
She's excited to wear it to a wedding we're attending.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Friday Flowers

My Black-Eyed Susans are beautifully bright and cheerful this year!!
I am learning to bring the outside inside...
I feel like the "lady of the manor" when I go outside to cut flowers!!
This is my favorite house in our neighborhood. Their whole style is English Garden or something...very different. I keep trying to talk Loverbrains into it...I tell him he wouldn't have to mow the lawn.
Love the bells and the blue!!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Confession: I want an easy life.

Most of the people I know, myself included, would say we are far and removed from the whole "prosperity gospel thang." But recent events have caused me to ponder if it's actually true in my heart.  I don't think that God wants me to be healthy, wealthy and wise...in fact I know the Bible says the christian life is very much a promise of the opposite.  But... there is so much that I take for granted...and that I expect God to do for those who love and trust Him. And for those in full time ministry...oh, I think they should be especially blessed.

I don't think they should die young. I don't think the void they leave should be so frustrating to explain to the world.  I don't think it should hurt so badly.

Nevermind that I know the Bible promises suffering...nevermind that I know He works all things for the good of those who love Him.  Nevermind that I know this earth is not my home...and heaven is a better place.  I say nevermind...because that's how I react when the tragic occurs.  Oh, maybe not outwardly...I might be smart enough, or church-culturally trained enough, to know better than to question things...but inside I wrestle with God.  Oh Lord, It just doesn't seem right. 

And this week as I struggled against being pinned to the mat, I read something about the Trusting Farmer.  "His heart bears much fruit, though his earthly fields through the providence of God may have been laid waste by his enemies or by the weather.  Embracing the words of his Master, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him."  John 12:24-26  His greatest delight is in pleasing the Father by being faithful as a laborer "together with God."  May God help us all to be faithful, Trusting Farmers whom the Father can honor."

There is no fair according to me.  There is only trusting everyday.  There is no prosperity using worldly standards.  There is a Sovereign God...who's plans are perfect...regardless if I agree or can see how it is so.  And the truth is that those who love Him are especially blessed...immortal until His work is done.

Excerpt from Changed Into His Image by Jim Berg

Edit:  Upon re reading this...(I wrote it a few days ago)...I decided maybe I should clarify.  I don't WANT an easy life...I WANT to walk worthy so that no matter what, if tested, I will come through the fire as gold.  But, when I said "I want an easy life" in this post...I was being honest, that when I look at my true heart I see that I'm a chicken and hopelessly sinful...and aside from the Holy Spirit's continued working in me I cannot think a single correct, logical thought re: the Sovereignty of God.  If I've confused anyone with my slight sarcasms or overstatements I apologize.  The object of such honesty was to inspire others to be honest in their own examination of their hearts.  I do pray for rain that waters me to grow into a life that will glorify God!