Book Design, Giveaway

Crowned Giveaway

September 3, 2015

My friend and writer, Melissa Deming of Hive Resources, is giving away a sweet bundle for a discipleship group. Maybe, your Discipleship group. Go enter.

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I am a bit partial, ;), because I designed the book and love how it turned out. I am going to share about the process here in a future post. I am looking forward to seeing the book live in the wild now.

crownedmockuplarge Check it out, Melissa Deming is an author that loves the word and writing and teaching it well. I am thankful for her, excited for her new book and happy I was able to work on this project.

Faith

Sweet Mercies, Everyday

September 2, 2015
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God’s mercies don’t come in one color; no, they come in every shade of every color of the rainbow of his grace. God’s mercies are not the sound of one instrument; no, they sound the note of every instrument of his grace. God’s mercy is general; all of his children bask in his mercy. God’s mercy is specific; each child receives the mercy that is designed for his or her particular moment of need. God’s mercy is predictable; it is the fountain that never stops flowing. God’s mercy is unpredictable; it comes to us in surprising forms. God’s mercy is a radical theology, but it is more than a theology; it is life to all who believe. God’s mercy is ultimate comfort, but it is also a call to a brand-new way of living. God’s mercy really does change everything forever, for all upon whom this mercy is bestowed. —Paul David Tripp, New Morning Mercies

This past week I turned 33. No Magic happened overnight to make me feel any different. I woke up weary as always. Everyday for the past 33 years, waking up to reality, each and every day…I am not discouraged though and I am incredibly joyful.

I have dreams that I can fly regularly. It’s been my reoccurring dream since I was a child. That and the weird dream animal changeling that chases me, but that’s a story for another day. In my dreams, my fear of heights vanishes and I become able to soar over city and field like a human hand-glider and a running start takes me off. Sometimes, when I just wake up I am still in the in between half dream-half reality and at those moments, my brain hasn’t told my heart yet that the night’s endeavors are not reality. It’s a sleepy, glowy feeling still where all things are yet possible.

There is cold reality of this world that we wake up to every day. It is easy to feel fatalistic, and want to give up completely . There is reality and the contrast, what feels like magic, what feels like dream, but is actually the truest reality and the greatest thing possible that has already happened and will happen.

That thing is the amazing mercy and grace extended to us through a true heavenly king living for us as a man and dying for us as a man and raising as a king, and by his tremendous sacrifice his Father makes us heirs with this king. This is no dream or fairy story where the pauper becomes the prince, this is real life. The truest reality. God’s mercy is extended to us, broken and poor in spirit and those that run to Jesus are made sons and daughters of God, heirs to a heavenly throne.

I really used to hate the analogy of a heavenly heirship because of ill-use by those that would cherry pick their bible verses toward a works-based religion but It is silly for me to diminish truth because some are bad truth-tellers. The truth is we deserve nothing but are given everything.

One thing that always stood out to me in the Beatitudes was “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven“. What a merciful statement. The poor in spirit are as the Matthew Henry Commentary states:

 To be contentedly poor, willing to be emptied of worldly wealth, if God orders that to be our lot; to bring our mind to our condition, when it is a low condition. Many are poor in the world, but high in spirit, poor and proud, murmuring and complaining, and blaming their lot, but we must accommodate ourselves to our poverty.

I live in a very poor neighborhood in our city, right next one of the richest neighborhoods in our city. What does that mean? Well, to God none of those arbitrary neighborhood lines make a difference because we are all equally sinners in need of a savior. The rich and poor in reality are really just a vapor and the truly merciful bit is all these worldly distinctions of rich and poor matter nothing to a Merciful, Benevolent God. So, it’s the matrix of the Gospel, where the dream of the Kingdom is real and are “former lives” are no more. Of course, we must live these lives in a way, while we have them, as an emptying of self and an accepting receptacle of the pouring of his spirit. This is why the “poor in spirit” inherit the Kingdom, regardless their bank account balance.

I think a lot about poverty these days. Like I said of where we live, we chose to live here but it is also true that we couldn’t afford to live elsewhere so it is a mingling of desire and necessity for us. I am realizing at 33, life is a dichotomy on the surface. I live with the poor, most would call us poor, but I have daily interactions with many people I would consider wealthy or well-off or doing fine. Then the other end of the spectrum might see us as the ones, “doing fine”.  To be truly honest because I see a lot on both ends I can say that I most never meet a prideful poor person. Poverty has a way of kind of weathering that down. I am not saying that poor and needy people can’t be prideful or that wealthy people cannot be humble and poor in spirit, that would be stupid to say, but what I am saying is that the fear of being judged for asking for help is not there, the fear of sharing their difficult circumstance stories with strangers is not there. Most people that are poor know that their need is great and they can’t do it alone. But, I think I can liken that to what the Bible means by “poor in spirit”, we have need and the Father tells us to lay down our pride and come and He will give us a Kingdom, True mercy.

And again back to mercy… mercy in Hebrew is Checed pronounced kheh’·sed (that k is virtually silent, Hess-id). In the Hebrew Lexicon it means Benevolent, as mutual benefits, mercy to those with misfortune. Isn’t it a beautiful story that regardless our circumstances and state we are all equally in need of God’s benevolence, we are equal at the Cross, all in need of adoption into this heavenly family? This is mercy and it isn’t a dream, it is the realest thing.

In this neighborhood, a church from the suburbs, my church, is beginning to make this place their worldly home, merging with an existing body and praying for how we can serve this community as Crawford Avenue Baptist Church. I am obviously not from the suburbs but this suburban church was a very good church home for our family and we made the trek out to Berea Baptist Church in Evans, Georgia every week to be a part of this family because the word was taught and hearts were being changed. The geography was not important. Now, in God’s infinite mercy, He is bringing a whole family to this community in Harrisburg, Augusta, Georgia to make a whole, new family and to love the people here. I know God is being merciful to us by providing new facilities for our church when we needed them. I know God is being merciful to both churches by bringing us together as a family. I know God is being merciful to me because I have prayed (and I am sure others have) for a Gospel-Drenched church to love Harrisburg well and to contrast the poor and often damaging theologies taught by the well-meaning here, I know God is being merciful to the residents and transients of Harrisburg because, well, as churches go, they can’t do better than one that truly does aspire with the help of the Spirit to righteousness. To be completely sappy now, excuse me ;), there is a Berea Love Bomb about to happen in Harrisburg but more than that, much more, is that God’s mercy means that the love bombing has been happening from the beginning and it wasn’t us doing it, it was God. The plans He orchestrated and the hands He moved, He already knew He would do it, I am so thankful for his immense mercy.

So, as we start to see how all things are merciful things as they work together, even the hard and hurting things, the wandering times, the home-less times, everything is colored by his mercy. We know that the Father loves us well and we can rejoice in sweet new mercies everyday and call out to the one that makes us his own, and this is all, dream coming true.

Here I raise my Ebenezer
Here there by Thy great help I’ve come
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home
Jesus sought me when a stranger
Wandering from the fold of God
He, to rescue me from danger
Interposed His precious blood

image2 (1)Read more about Berea Baptist Church’s Merger with Crawford Avenue in the community of Harrisburg in Augusta, Ga: HERE.

Catechism, Faith, Family

Catechising your children, why you should.

August 27, 2015
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This idea of all education springing from and resting upon our relation to Almighty God-we do not merely give a religious education because that would seem to imply the possibility of some other education, a secular education, for example. But we hold that all education is divine, that every good gift of knowledge and insight comes from above, that the Lord the Holy Spirit is the supreme educator of mankind, and that the culmination of all education (which may at the same time be reached by a little child) is that personal knowledge of and intimacy with God in which our being finds its fullest perfection. ― Charlotte M. Mason

I am not a perfect parent. In fact I may be the picture of “imperfect parent”. And, that is ok. I do not need to be perfect when I have a perfect, risen, Christ. That is why I am so eager to help my children understand the truths of the Bible. A Catechism is an excellent tool for imperfect parents to prod their children toward Truth, Beauty and Goodness. This post is my argument toward Catechising your children, with a bit of my experience so far.

Emma, my oldest, is 8 and this child has one million questions about life and plus some. I have gone into a bit of a panic mode lately as she is growing and changing and is looking more like a little lady than a baby, in my eyes. But, I know I can have  confidence in Christ and in the truths we have been teaching her.

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Every home school morning, we have Liturgy. Liturgy for us is a Hymn, our Bible Lesson, a discussion of Habits and finally our Catechism. I will delve into Liturgy on a different post but for now I have linked to the individual items we use.

We have been using the North Star Catechism for a few years now, and I have been very happy with it. It clearly written with impeccable content.

Our kids need to have their faith firmly rooted in doctrine that has weathered the centuries. For thousands of years, travelers have been guided on their journey by a fixed point in the night sky: the North Star. While other stars appear to shift with the passing of time, the North Star remains anchored. This gift allows travelers to know where they are and where they need to go. Like its celestial namesake, our prayer is that the North Star Catechism will like be a faithful guide for the next generation. — North Star Catechism

You can also get a free pdf of the Catechism from Sojourn Kids along with some other resources available.

So, we delve into these questions and Emma is hearing and learning. We memorize the questions, answers and corresponding verses. Once she has memorized a verse we put it in a rotation to revisit it, so it doesn’t completely disappear from her memory.

I wish we had started earlier. The North Star Catechism gives age suggestions for each part but since we only started a few years back we are just progressing at our own pace and I am not as worried about the age range or else we’d have to cram to be able to catch up since the ranges start at about three. I encourage to start at any age, of course earlier is better but don’t feel you have missed your chance.

I have transferred the questions and verses to index cards and we go through a few every morning.

So there is the How, but Why do we Catechise? This from John Piper:

Why is it important?

  1. We are required to “continue in the faith, stable and steadfast” (Col. 1:23).
  2. We are urged to “attain to the unity of the… knowledge of the Son of God…so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine” (Eph. 4:13-14).
  3. There are many deceivers (1 John 2:26).
  4. There are difficult doctrines “which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:16).
  5. Leaders must be raised up who can “give instruction in sound doctrine and also confute those who contradict it” (Titus 1:9).

We believe these are excellent reasons to continue on. We have done the Catechism for a few years now and in the first few I wondered “Does she get it?”. Well, sometimes, you will see how your children “get it” during interesting and unexpected conversations. My daughter surprised me when we were discussing why someone was going to jail. I said in my worldliness that they were a bad person and did some bad things. She responds with “Mama, but, No one is truly Good except God.” (Q.6) and of course that, at first, surprises me and then leads to excellent discussion. Because, she is right and I am glad she heard this truth repeatedly and can tell it to me even when I need to hear it.

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Another instance was recently a very bittersweet conversation that arose. She said that she liked the President but asked why sometimes people dislike him and asked if I liked him. I said I loved him and that we should love our President and pray for him no matter if we disagree on things. She asked me what I disagreed on and I responded that the biggest thing was that our President is Pro-Choice and our family is Pro-Life. I knew that there would be a time we would need to talk about this but I didn’t expect it to be on a Saturday nature walk. So, of course she asked me what it meant. I asked her if she would be ok to talk about it because it was really sad. She said yes and I explained to her the awful truth of what Abortion is. She looked at me sadly and said “Well, Mama, that is wrong because God made everything and me (Q.1) and made those babies too, and we need to take care of them.” It was a sad conversation but I was hopeful in her answer to me and it made me happy to know she is actually “getting it.”

 

 

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. —Ephesians 6:12-13

 

There are many more instances of my child speaking truth when things seem scary, dark and uncertain and I pray that there will be many more instances where she can see this light of truth and speak it with confidence. This is why we Catechise. Darkness is all around and the only remedy is breath-taking light.

The key is becoming convinced that you are furnishing your child with the mental foundation on which the rest of his or her spiritual life will be built. Or, to switch metaphors, you are laying the kindling and the logs in the fireplace, so that when the spark of the Holy Spirit ignites your child’s heart, there will be a steady, mature blaze. — Kathy Keller

I can only pray that light revealed to my child’s heart will be a mature blaze one day. I am thankful for resources like the North Star Catechism. I basically don’t know what I am doing as a parent, but none of us do. I know the only way I can combat my parental and general ignorance is through the Wisdom found in His Word and sharing that Word with my children is what I am called to do as a parent to these image-bearers of God.

Charlotte Mason, Faith, Family

Our Homeschool, This Year. (YEAR 3)

August 25, 2015
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I meant to write this out much earlier and have now just gotten to it. I’ve written a homeschool plan post every year and it always helps me to think critically through our plan even if I have been teaching it for a few weeks now. It has almost been a full month since we started Year 3 and I am very excited about the selections and learning we will be doing together.

IMG_3439   Most will know that we are Charlotte Mason Homeschoolers. What this means, simply, is that we follow the Philosophy of Education that Miss Mason espoused. Charlotte Mason was a Christian, Classical Educator at the turn of the 19th and 20th century. She had a unique insight into the minds of children and was a passionate reformer of education to give all children a wide and generous curriculum. In here time only wealthy received a Classical diet or was educated at all and she wanted to not only spread the feast of education for all but make lovely and wholesome. I encourage you, if interested in learning more about Charlotte Mason to read For the Children’s Sake by Francis Schaeffer’s daughter, Susan Schaeffer Macaulay or to pick up the Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola. The wisdom and love for education that Miss Mason speaks of is something worth reading about even if you choose any different form of education. It has helped me in my every day, with my children and being innately Christian has blended remarkably well with our Reformed Faith. In fact so well, I feel like I have some great secret since Charlotte Mason is not as widely know as others. A side note: There is a Reformed and Charlotte Mason group on FB for those that love Reformed Theology and Charlotte Mason’s love for the feast of education.

Education Is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life.  -Charlotte Mason 

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So, back to our homeschool plan. This year will be in Year 3 according to our Ambleside Online ScheduleWe use Ambleside Online as a Charlotte Mason guide for each year and this year we continue that tradition. We follow the schedule exactly for everything except Bible and History, where we do some different selections that I will share.

I will discuss our daily schedule in a different post and that seems to be fluctuating because of my husband’s changing hours at work but generally we start school at 8 am and are done before lunch.

Here are our subjects and resources for each, everything unless otherwise listed is a selection from Ambleside Online:

Liturgy-

Bible: We will continue to use Long Story Short as a guide for reading through the Old Testament. We have been getting through the Old Testament for the last two years and we are now in Joshua and moving forward. By the time we are through we will have completely almost all the key readings in the Old Testament and will move on to Old Story New which is the same guide but for the New Testament until we complete the entire Bible. I really love this resource. I will say that I do modify it for my needs and to make it fit within a Charlotte Mason framework. I do not typically use the illustrations at the beginning of each week and will sometimes include narration and forego the questions. Emma enjoys a lot of the questions though and they are usually about how the story points to Jesus, etc. so I enjoy them as well. We also have a Bible that corresponds with the readings but it is not necessary.

Catechism and Scripture Memory: We continue with the North Star Catechism this year. I have a post in draft about why I think you should Catechise your children and will hopefully post later this week. We love this Catechism and are memorizing at our own pace.

Habits: Charlotte Mason was a big believer in Habit Training and we honestly all need some habits trained, do we not? We are walking through Laying Down the Rails for Children and are currently reading and discussing about a Sweet, Even Temper which covers tantrums and complaining and encourages joy instead. There are poems and stories to narrate and discuss. It is a great way to talk about these concerns. It truly is a help to myself as well.

Hymn: We follow the Ambleside Online Hymn schedule. We are on How Firm a Foundation this month and will be transitioning to I Bind Unto Myself Today for September and following the schedule the rest of the year.

History-

Early American: We are continuing with Beautiful Feet History this year and yes, are still in Early American. Last year, being the insane year it was, History typically took a back seat. Thankfully, Emma remembered a lot from where we left off and so we picked up in Jamestowne this year. We are now reading Pilgrim Stories from Margaret Pumphrey and Emma seems to be immersed in their world. What is cool that we have been able to trace back our family line to Early Colonial times and it is rumored that one member was one of the Mayflower Pilgrims but I haven’t been able to find who yet. There was definitely some Jamestowne Colonists in the line from our searches.

Church History: The selections from Trial and Triumph this year will be Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Knox and more.

Biography: We will read biographies throughout the year. Da Vinci by Emily Hahn, Bard of Avon by Peter Vennema and Pilgrim’s Landing by James Daugherty.

Geography: Marco Polo by Demi and Charlotte Mason Geography selections for the year, found on Ambleside Online.

Natural History and Science: We will be using Pagoo by Hollings , Secret of the Woods by Long , A Drop of Water by Wick along with Nature Studying in Nature Journals. We also do Nature in our local Charlotte Mason co-op.

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Math: Math U See again this year, she loves the counting block manipulatives.

Reading: We will finish Explode the Code book we are in and then use the Discover Reading Lesson Plan and Activity Guide by Amy Tuttle. Emma struggles with reading and we have just been slowly prodding her toward Literacy. A little a day, I tell her and I encourage her to continue on. In addition, she reads a few pages from a reader of her choice daily because if there is no reading going on in our house then there is no screen-time either. At least that is what this year looks like.

Copywork: We use Handwriting Without Tears and it is very simple to follow and she gets through it quickly and without much drama, hence why we chose it.

Literature-

Poetry:  This year we will reading and memorizing from William Blake, Sara Teasdale and Hilda Conkling, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. We also will be reemphasizing all learning within Poetry Studies in our Charlotte Mason Co-op.

Literature: The literature selections are usually the jewel of Charlotte Mason Education and this year is no exception.  We will be reading Parables from Nature, by Margaret Gatty, American Tall Tales by Adrien Stoutenburg (Emma is loving Paul Bunyan), The Heroes by Charles Kingsley,
Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald, Children of the New Forest by F. Marryat, and The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling.

Shakespeare: Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb, selections from the Ambleside Schedule

Free Reading:

We Typically cuddle on the couch and I read aloud through these selections. It is such a sweet time of the day. As she gets older she will read independently, her free reads. Selections this year are A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley, At the Back of the North Wind, by George MacDonald, Men of Iron by Howard Pyle, Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass, by Lewis Carroll, The Bears of Blue River by Charles Major, Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome, Unknown to History: Captivity of Mary of Scotland, by Charlotte Yonge, Caddie Woodlawn, by Carol Ryrie Brink , On the Banks of Plum Creek, by Laura Ingalls Wilder, The Little White Horse, by Elizabeth Goudge , The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright, English Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs, King of the Wind, by Marguerite Henry, and The Wheel on the School, by Meindert De Jong.

Weekly Work-

Spanish: We are introducing Gouin Series’ at her own pace. We are using the book Speaking Spanish with Miss
Mason and François from Cherrydale Press.

Art Study: Along with our Co-op we will study Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Jacques- Louis David and Hans Holbein the Younger.

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Composer Study: Along with our Co-op we will study Johannes Brahms, Franz Schubert and Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina.

Folksong: We will follow the Folksong schedule for the year by simply listening to the songs during Masterly Inactivity.

Art Instruction: We will be doing simple pencil and pen and ink instruction this year. Nature Journaling also overlaps into Art instruction.

Handicrafts: Emma is learning to sew softies and doll accessories with the book Baby Stuff.  It is a Japanese Book translated to English. I like it because it is not so much a Sewing instruction book but has step by step directions for doing a project including the types of stitches you need to make, etc.

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I love the lovely thoughts and ideas on the schedule this year. I am excited to learn with Emma. I learn so much as well and Self-Education is one of the wonderful things about homeschooling and teaching homeschool. It is my goal to not forget though that “Education Is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life”. 

“The question is not, — how much does the youth know? when he has finished his education — but how much does he care? and about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? and, therefore, how full is the life he has before him?”
Charlotte M. Mason, School Education: Developing A Curriculum

I want to be wise and make an atmosphere of security, comfort and joy while we learn and live. That is so why I love a Charlotte Mason Education. The emphasis is put on the family and the atmosphere and growing together in Life. It is not how much she knows but how much she cares.


 

 

You can see our previous CM Years here: YEAR 1 & YEAR 2 and more Charlotte Mason posts in the CHARLOTTE MASON HOMESCHOOL tab.


We have an online Charlotte Mason community at CharlotteMasonLiving.com or on Instagram @charlottemasonliving. It is a beautiful space, come join us.

 

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Words and an Image.

August 20, 2015

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Alice.

I am pretty certain you are a baby tiger or some sort of feline.

Monday, you woke up happy. Tuesday,  you woke up screaming. Wednesday, you woke up with an odd mixture of the both. It’s now Thursday and you seem mildly amused. I’ll take it.

 


I will be posting a Words and an Image  series in attempts to force me to post images I take in the everyday and to show you what I see. It will be occasional and maybe not consistent, but I hope you enjoy. -Ellie

 

Faith, Family

Messy Hearts over Messy Homes.

July 22, 2015
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Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. -PSALM 51:6

I haven’t posted in quite awhile. I have a series of health concerns right now that have made life slightly harried. The doctors discovered that I have a non-threatening cyst in my sinus that is compressing a nerve in my face causing odd symptoms like facial numbness and dizziness. And while at the doctor for that issue they diagnosed me with Hypothyroidism, which makes complete sense if you know me in real life. I haven’t been able to give another answer than tired to the question, “how are you?” in years. I am on a thyroid replacement now and am praying that it will help my body make the needed changes. The fact that I can even write a single coherent sentence is probably proof that it is.

So, I have been tired, recovering and the house is a mess (well, it normally is but x100). There is no perfect in this equation. There never really was on my best day though, you understand. But God doesn’t call us to perfection he calls us to righteousness. He calls us to deal with messy hearts first. There can be a lot of guilt or criticism placed on women to keep pristine homes at the sake of the Gospel. Guilt has no place in our lives, we can lay that down at the feet of Christ. We are perfectly imperfect and Christ is perfectly perfect. Mothers and Wives, this is hard stuff, this life. Believe me, you need grace.

 Moms, please go read this piece I read the week: God’s Math for Good Mothering by Liz Wann. Be encouraged by much needed grace.

And we do need Grace. Grace is not a ticket to easy living. Grace is Christ saying it’s hard but I give you myself for this moment, for all the moments. Each and every hard and tear-filled moment, each joyful moment, each discouraging and heart-dampening moment, all of them, he came to be with us for all of them.

So, as I look at my laundry mountain and bristle from some recent experiences with how people perceive me, my home and my messy life, I want to encourage others. Don’t be more concerned about your messy home than your messy heart. All these things we surround ourselves with are usually outward presentations of inward hearts. Of course the keeping of the home is a God honoring position and we shouldn’t shrug it aside but we have precedent for knowing what is of the most import.

And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching.
(Luke 10:39 ESV)

“Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

(Luke 10:38-42 ESV)

Martha was anxious and troubled about Mary’s choice to sit at Christ’s feet. She was anxious and troubled about many things, but Christ lovingly instructed her to focus only on the one thing. Only one thing is necessary. The greek word for neccessary is chreia (Strong’s G5532) which refers to anything needed for life or sustenance.  “such things as suited the exigency, such things as we needed for sustenance and the journey. ” (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon) So, the one thing, Christ should be our primary focus.

I don’t want to be anxious about the many things but focused on the one thing. I do though, struggle with all the anxieties placed on me from the many things. And, oh, there are so many things that cause them these days. Our hearts, schedules and facebook feeds are full of them. Are you assailed by the many things that distract from the one thing?

Then let us focus on the one thing, Christ, and let the work we do with our hands be an outpouring of transforming hearts.

“He applauded her for her wisdom: She hath chosen the good part;for she chose to be with Christ, to take her part with him; she chose the better business, and the better happiness, and took a better way of honouring Christ and of pleasing him, by receiving his word into her heart, than Martha did by providing for his entertainment in her house.” -Matthew Henry Commentary

The verse at the top of the blog, Psalm 51:6 is something I want to know, truth in the inward being. This is where wisdom starts at the place where we awe and reverently fear the Lord and sit at his feet because we know we can’t do anything but, because only ONE thing matters.

C. H. Spurgeon says: To sit at Jesus’ feet implies faith as well as submission. Mary believed in what Jesus said, and, therefore, sat there to be taught by him. It is absolutely necessary that we have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, in his power as God and man, in his death as being expiatory, in his crucifixion as being a sacrifice for our sins. We must trust him for time and eternity, in all his relationships as Prophet, Priest, and King. We must rely on him; he must be our hope, our salvation, our all in all. This one thing is absolutely necessary: without it we are undone. A believing submission, and a submissive faith in Jesus we must have, or perish.

So, I encourage us to be concerned with our messy hearts firstly or it will be our undoing. God will provide the ability and the tools necessary for the messy homes if we trust in him and are not anxious. Like always, this blog is a way of preaching to myself, so I need to hear this most of all.

Perhaps, you do not struggle with anxiety when it comes to homemaking and you are a “Mary” in your home. Maybe, home keeping is of a second nature and something that pours out from a place of wisdom and trust in God. I am so thankful there are people that are gifted in this way. Alternatively, I struggle and know many that do as well, with keeping the home. My encouragement is not “let your house get messy” but rather if the dishes go undone because you carve time for bible study and prayer then let them. There is no need to worry about these things and no need to be concerned with people’s opinions of you in regards to them.

 I pray as well that believing women can love and not judge one another. Sometimes the most emotional harm done to Christian Women are committed by other well-meaning “Christian Women”. A messy home is usually symptomatic and representative of need and if you love one another harsh criticism or gossip is not the answer. Be the sister that shows Grace and sees people’s lives in the Gospel lens of Christ where the many things are of no matter. But also when there is need be the Sister that prays and offers help. In my illness recently I have had the sweetest help from sisters in our church. They have brought food, cared for children and one lovely friend even hired a house cleaner to help me tackle what felt insurmountable. They have done all of this with zero criticism and so much Grace that I am just drowning in Grace. That’s a good thing. I am beyond blessed, God is good and uses his people for his good.

I am probably the worst homemaker, though I’m sure there are worse if I’m not hyperbolic. I have never had a desire to keep up house nor did I even have the desire originally to stay at home with children. But, I know God is changing my heart and even though my distracted mind or the opinions of others can cause me anxieties, I want to sit at his feet and give those thoughts to him. If I am more concerned with my messy heart firstly, I know God will shine his Gospel light on my messy life and home and we can deal with it together. I may be the worst homemaker, but he is the greatest heart maker and only he can do the changing.

Book Review, Faith

Practicing Affirmation

May 20, 2015
Image from Dual Design
Image from Dual Design

The book Practicing Affirmation by Sam Crabtree is a very practical guide to Gospel centered affirmation. The title might make you believe that this is some sort of how-to manual or self-help guide but it is more about showing how Jesus affirms us and how we should affirm others in the church, our homes and beyond. There is a very useful list in the back to to help brainstorm ways to affirm others if you are having a hard time doing so and can’t break that mold. I am cynical and critical by nature and affirmation is not always the first thing on my mind. I’ve started trying to implement the rule of thumb that Sam Crabtree shared from John Piper about C.J. Mahaney’s ministry that states “three for one”. Three affirmations to every criticism and well when I do do it, I can see immediate change. Thankful for this book that can help me practically affirm and encourage others when I’m not so good at it by nature.

I will be coming back to this as I need to really flesh out affirmation in my life. Have you read this book or are interested? I’d love to talk with you about it.

purchase the book through Crossway: https://www.crossway.org/books/practicing-affirmation-tpb/

Faith, Family, Words & Meditations

Going to the Farm

April 15, 2015
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Some weeks feel endless. Most weeks feel endless, lately. There are many reasons. One is that I have a personal family goal of slowliving and I want an atmosphere that is long been forgotten in homes. One of peace and rest. I believe Thoreau said “It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?”

“It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?”

and I agree. I want the atmosphere of Family and the Home to be one that is a respite to busy lives and much-ness. Unfortunately, it’s been quite the opposite lately. Kenny works two jobs, pretty much, with unpredictable schedules and I take free-lance work as well and add in activities and co-op and various other things like a house full of sick people and a trip to the E.R. for a daredevil gash to the face (Alice), the weeks can fill before there is a moment to breathe. I am learning to say “I just can’t”, It’s hard for a person that craves interaction with others but I feel so much better when I do because I actually can’t, I need to give it to God.  And what are we truly busy about anyway? Nothing much, really. When the schedules fight for our slow time like little daggers to our calendar, what good is it? I get overwhelmed easily these days and busy-ness is not something I could even want to fight for. In those moments this extrovert wants to become a recluse to society. And yet, there are things we want to mark time for that I don’t consider busy-ness. Like the fact that we hardly have had any family vacations, or can pull together enough extra finances to do so. But there are simple things I am learning to carve time for and it’s nice to do them in a place of perspective. So we went to the Farm to see sheep shearing, it was good intentional family time.

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Let us tend to our flock like the Greatest Shepherd tends to his.

The Lamb

William Blake
Little Lamb, who made thee
Does thou know who made thee
Gave thee life & bid thee feed.
By the stream & o’er the mead;
Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing woolly bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice.
Making all the vales rejoice:
Little Lamb who made thee
Does thou know who made theeLittle Lamb I’ll tell thee,
Little Lamb I’ll tell thee;
He is called by thy name,
For he calls himself a Lamb:
He is meek & he is mild,
He became a little child
I a child & thou a lamb,
We are called by His name,
Little Lamb God bless thee,
Little Lamb God bless thee.
Bible Literacy, Book Review, Faith

Women of the Word

April 6, 2015
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There are many books I am reading right now, I won’t go into the whole list, it makes me anxious just thinking about it. I have more books than time or mental capacity some days. Some books stay with you for quite a long time though and hopefully forever. I used to think fiction was the only type of book that had staying power. I remember vividly beautiful words from Narnia that never left. As I grow older and I read more religious non-fiction in hopes of gleaning wisdom I realize there are certain truths written by wiser people than myself that have that staying power.

Two books right now that I am reading/ or have read, Praying with Paul  by D.A. Carson and Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin have been added high on that internal list of books I will recommend to others. I am so glad that I was able to read both of them simultaneously, God is teaching me a lot about Prayer and delighting in the Word recently and it’s been a very harmonious pairing. I’ll talk more about that Praying with Paul in a different post.

I started reading a review copy of Women of the Word independently and by happy fate our church began a Women’s Bible study of the Minor Prophets, using Women of the Word as a spine to further our understanding of how to study the Minor Prophets. So, I was excited that I was already ahead in my reading and have loved learning with other women through this book.

To be honest, I don’t think I understood how to read the Bible and hadn’t grown in the process of doing so, well, since ever. I suppose I wasn’t reading it properly. Maybe I should say “thoroughly” instead, because some might not enjoy the use of proper. I did do bible study, I would usually do a book or guided study of scripture and then I would just have some type of bible reading plan as well. It was a food fight in the hopes that something would stick. The habit is being slowly worn down as well. Jen Wilkin outlines some misguided approaches early on and I identified with a lot of them. I think it was a form of rule following for me, to read the word rather than taking pleasure in the scriptures and even though there were small pleasures to be had when something stood out I was not as intentional about seeking it out. Truly, I didn’t understand what it meant to be Bible Literate. I am happy to be making small steps toward Bible Literacy because I do love seeing those red strings that intertwine throughout all of the Bible and point us to Christ. This book has helped immensely. I want that “Delight” that the Psalmist speaks of in Psalm 1.

Everything is outlined very clearly as Jen Wilkin walks us through the 5 P’s she uses to study the word; purpose, perspective, patience, process, prayer. I really liked having a guide to lead me through all these steps. How much will your bible study change if you are identifying your purpose to study the word and digging for the truths while praying diligently that it will transform you and being patient through that process? Every “P” mentioned in Women in the Word has been helpful for me to see the larger picture. Jen Wilkin says this in regard to perspective but I think you can connect it to all of the P’s:

“It is not surprising that the Bible compares the acquisition of wisdom to the finding of gold, silver, and hidden treasure; all three require digging to obtain. And digging is hard work, especially when it must be done with respect to historical and cultural context. We live in a time when the Bible is largely regarded as a book for our own edification, through which the Holy Spirit will simply reveal truth to those willing to give it a few minutes’ attention a day. The intellectual muscles that our faith ancestors once used for digging have grown atrophied in the modern mind. Not many of us are willing to do the hard work of digging, preferring to inhabit a modern-day understanding of the Bible with no regard for its original audience or purpose, tailoring our modern reading to suit our own ends. Because we lack a sense of how small we are in the grand scheme of history, we are quick to circumvent the sound practice of “calling in the archaeologists” to help us dig responsibly when we read and study.

The digging and drawing out the treasures, the “Exegesis” is my personal desire when I study the word. I don’t want to make so much of myself that I forget that there is a much larger story and I should desire to see it and be a part of it and I must enter into that process and prayerfully consider it and be patient that God will use it. I want to not only be a reader of the word but I want to be literate in it.

I definitely think that women that have a strong theological background or not and desire the knowledge that comes from diligent study might really benefit from Women of the Word. The Process chapter alone highlights steps of comprehending, interpreting and applying the word that have already drastically changed my studying. I am now studying Romans and doing so more methodically than I ever have. I am writing in my Bible, making a ton of notes and outlines and I am chasing after those beautiful cross references. Basically, just dwelling awhile with the Word and the process is just tiny piece of the puzzle.

I don’t believe that Women’s Bible study needs to be flowery, low on gospel and high on feelings and full of anecdote after anecdote. I shudder at many items geared toward Women of Faith. Bible Literacy is attainable even in my daily circumstances. I think we can delight in the Word as it is written when we see that the Bible is for everyone and it applies to me as well, where I am, in the pile of unfolded laundry and whiny kids.