Faith, Words & Meditations

True Thanksgiving, True Joy

November 21, 2014
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The one day we designate for Thanksgiving each year is soon upon us and of course that means we can just go thankless the other 364 days of the year. I am just kidding but seriously there is something to be said for continuing the tradition of thankfulness all throughout the year.

Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ -Ephesians 5:20

It’s a nice thought to say,” let’s be thankful all the year”, but I truly mean it. When sorrow waits at your gates or lives in your home we can combat it by remembering the sweet grace and mercy given to us as we count our blessings ,count it all joy. I wrote that post that I just linked before a very recent sorrow and it still rings true before, during and after. As always I am preaching to myself. When complaining flows from ours mouths like dark water meaning our hearts are sick and broken, true thanksgiving can battle broken hearts, because the source is of joy is immense and forever.

The reason I believe that true thankfulness can battle brokenness and darkness is because it comes from a place of that knows there is nothing that I deserve, you deserve and yet we can have so much despite that. This may be a theological difference of opinion for readers and I but I see ring true in my life and I see it ring true in scripture, so it is not purely anecdotal. Thankfulness, not for things, not for possessions, but for His hand moving in our lives. Yes, we can give thanks for the physical things too but they are temporal and their time is soon coming to a close, there are eternal things, made out of nothing things, made with an astonishing power.  Ann Voskamp says:

And when yet another harvest globe rolls off top, off back of the wagon, and I bend for the stem, for the blessing overflowing, I know but this.

Thanks is never for the things. Thanks is for His touch.

That gifts have no significance in and of themselves. Gifts only have meaning in that they trace the outline of God’s heart.

Ann Voskamp aways has refreshing view on looking at life as a gift:

To thank God in all is to bend the knee in allegiance to God Who alone knows all.

To thank God in all is to give God glory in all. Is this not our chief end?

When I only give thanks for some things, aren’t I likely to miss giving God glory in mostthings?

Murmuring thanks isn’t to deny that an event isn’t a tragedy and neither does it deny that there’s a cracking fissure straight across the heart.

Giving thanks is only this: making the canyon of pain into a megaphone to proclaim the ultimate goodness of God.

Our thanks to God is our witness to the goodness of God when Satan and all the world would sneer at us to recant.

I lay my hand on the rain-filmed windowpane and I see clearer. But this is not easy: That which I refuse to thank Christ for, I refuse to believe Christ can redeem.

The grey sky’s drumming steady on the truck’s tin roof.

I wish my words recently could be as poetic because I am at a word loss these days. I struggle to articulate what’s going on deeply but I know that whatever God is doing in this season is changing me for more joy, for more thankfulness. Not a once-a-year, lip service, thankfulness but a thankfulness that stems from true joy planted in the heart of the believer.

 The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me;

to one who orders his way rightly

I will show the salvation of God!” -Psalm 50:23

Life is not a “things” race yet we as broken humans want to make is so. The most joyful people in life have the simplest of pleasures and I wonder if sometimes we are too over stimulated, over coddled, over praised to know what those simple joys pleasures look like, we don’t recognize them anymore.

“You say, ‘If I had a little more, I should be very satisfied.’ You make a mistake.
If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled.”

[Charles Haddon Spurgeon]

Spurgeon, the Prince of Preachers, always seems to say the words I need to hear. I want to, from a genuine heart, take joy in all I have been given and to be satisfied in him. Let us look to the Lord and say “I am satisfied in You’. My heart like the deer that pants, pants for and thanks God for the many blessings that sustain us.

One look at our social media streams speak a much different picture and I can say I have participated in the loud protestations, be it on Facebook or in real life, that do not make way for joy and satisfaction. We feel our complaints are important at the moment and then they seem fleeting in the passing of time. As we learn to take joy and be satisfied in Christ and know life is what pours from our lips instead of complaining, comparing, jealousy, anger, we can remember there is a comfort that comes from Him.

One of my favorite songs is below, I listen to this song in my lowest lows and even in my best of times to remember what he is delivering me through. Listen to it, I’ve shared it many times before, but listen to the words:

Let my sighs give way to songs that sing about your faithfulness
Let my pain reveal your glory as my only real rest
Let my losses show me all I truly have is you

Listen to it and from a heart of true thanksgiving remember it every day of your life. True Thanksgiving, True Joy.

 

 

Faith, Good Music

Liz Vice

November 19, 2014
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I wanted to share an album that I mentioned in my Sorrowful, Yet Always Rejoicing post that has been a balm of comfort to me lately. Our friend and Associate Pastor at our church introduced our worship band to her music and I pretty much have only listened to this album since. The Album is called There’s a Light and it comes from singer/filmmaker Liz Vice. I’ll just say a few words in praise and then it’s back to mom business the rest of the day, while listening to this album of course.

Liz Vice hails from Portland, land of the weird and is a part of the Deeper Well Gospel Collective which I am very interested in by association being familiar with Josh White and La Liberte previously. She has a great story, you should read more about her story, I think it is beautiful and am intrigued to find out more as she continues to blow my mind with her music.

She reminds me of Roberta Flack mixed with some obvious Gospel influences and I feel I can hear some modern blue eyed soul artists mixed in the lot, so obviously I love it. There is something so personal and cozy to me about the album There’s a Light, almost as if that light was a stirring, comforting fire in my home’s fireplace. We all know the light that Liz Vice speaks of is not her own but it calls to someone bigger and greater and that does truly warm my soul. I won’t make this a lengthy post except for saying that I love this album and since it’s free on Noisetrade you should go download it now.

Faith, Reading Lists

What I’m Reading- November 2014

November 17, 2014
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Firstly, I want to thank all my friend/readers for the overwhelming support I received on my last post about my loss in pregnancy and taking joy in the midst. You have touched me with your kindness and I love being a part of such a wonderful community of friends. Just thank you.

Secondly, As you may know I have a book problem. Not only am I a bibliophile and love collecting beautiful books, I like to read them simultaneously which means sometimes some books never get finished. I am trying to work on reading all my books from beginning to end. It feels like a big task. It is usually not a problem when I love a book and can’t seem to put it down even for sleep but usually this is an issue when reading multiple non-fiction titles. Which I do read a lot of. It probably is not a good thing for me to read multiple books at a time but that is habit almost thirty years in the making. I think I need to change the habit of not finishing books at least so I’ll list the books I’m reading now as a sort of semi-accountability and to keep track. This choatic Type-B actually really likes a good book list, usually I have more fiction than religious non-fiction in my list but this is a season for me to glean wisdom from wise believers (but, hopefully every season is too).

Right now I am reading:

The Stories We Tell: How TV and Movies Long for and Echo the Truth by Mike Cosper – This book is about the culture of TV and movies and how those stories are a cry to something deeper and powerful than they may even know. I am really enjoying it so far and since the intro began with a 30Rock quote I pretty much am sold.

Daughters of the King- I love Instagram, I have met so many lovely women and IG friends (I like to call them) that live all over the world that are speaking truth into my life. Melissa Deming is one of those friends. I am going through her book Daughters of the King and it impeccably tells the gospel story by walking you through the Bible showing you your place in the story. I am thankful for this book, thank you Melissa for sharing it with me.

Stepping Heavenward- This book was a gift from my beautiful friend Wendy for my Birthday this year. Stepping Heavenward was written by Elizabeth Prentiss who wrote the Hymn; More Love To Thee, Oh Christ and this book seems to be just as lovely as that hymn. There is something special about following the character, Katherine, through her young life and on as she begins to understand the sweetness of God. It’s helping me to understand as well.

Shepherding a Child’s Heart- Do you want a book that lays out Biblical Parenting and Discipline? We have had recent struggles with Emma but I am trying to glean from the Bible and other biblical books good wisdom for how to tackle these times. We have started to implement a lot of the information and it has already been a big help. This book does deal with Biblical discipline in God’s design, now there is a lot of debate about what that design looks like, but there is no debate in our home so this book will be a mainstay. We like this book and what it extols and we are seeing fruit little by little from Tedd Tripp’s wisdom.

Good News for Weary Women- Read this book if you are a believer and a woman, no, I mean really, stop what you are doing and read this book. Elyse Fitzpatrick doesn’t even know how she’s touched my life with this book and other titles. This book tells us there is good news for us, weary women. I love that she just comes out and says what I need to hear, that people tell women a lot of dumb things but there is Hope. She speaks candidly in the way my ears and heart need and I appreciate that so much. This book feels like a good Godly girlfriend telling you sweet truth.
I honestly think this book will help undo some of those stupid things people have said to women, Thank God. It is so good to knowing the freeing love of Christ. I am thankful that Mrs. Fitzpatrick wrote straight to my heart in this book.

So, many of these titles I will probably post a review on once I have finished them. Have you read any of these, did you enjoy them? Also, what are you reading now?

Also, I am glad that many have mentioned how the love the new look of the blog and I am so glad, Thank you for the kind words.

I’ll leave you with a hymn of encouragement from Mrs. Prentiss:

More love to Thee, O Christ, more love to Thee!
Hear Thou the prayer I make on bended knee.
This is my earnest plea: More love, O Christ, to Thee;
More love to Thee, more love to Thee!

Once earthly joy I craved, sought peace and rest;
Now Thee alone I seek, give what is best.
This all my prayer shall be: More love, O Christ to Thee;
More love to Thee, more love to Thee!

Let sorrow do its work, come grief or pain;
Sweet are Thy messengers, sweet their refrain,
When they can sing with me: More love, O Christ, to Thee;
More love to Thee, more love to Thee!

Then shall my latest breath whisper Thy praise;
This be the parting cry my heart shall raise;
This still its prayer shall be: More love, O Christ to Thee;
More love to Thee, more love to Thee!

Depression, Faith, Words & Meditations

Sorrowful, Yet Always Rejoicing

November 10, 2014
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I have been absent for awhile, absent although not absent in thought. The words have failed me. I couldn’t speak because I didn’t know how. You see this is a post about loss, specifically my recent loss, our recent loss, something so deep and painful for me that it would be easiest to lose the words forever and shut them up in my heart letting them wilt into nothingness, That is even more painful though, and pain is powerful but can be redeemed. But this is not really only a post about loss it is much more a post about Joy, Rejoicing. I will explain later.

Before I go any further please stop reading now if you will be uncomfortable with how real I am about to get with my account. I feel I cannot better explain except for truthfully and plainly. This is all part of my healing process as God pours grace and mercy on me. Additionally this is my pain, yours may be much greater in the scales of things that hurt, so know there is no comparison and I am not saying I understand all pain, nor do I even understand mine. This is just a story.

I am no good with dates, so some of these that I am throwing out are arbitrary. A few months ago as I started to feel the familiar queasiness and exhaustion I had a feeling that there was something happening, that familiar something that had happened twice before. We checked and positive was the answer. Mixed emotions of joy and worry ensued. Joy because a child is always a joyful occasion and worry because the “What are we going to do?”s start. We we’re happy, as happy as a couple could be as we started dreaming and planning. We we’re keeping it a secret for most until the time we felt was appropriate, it was still really early and we felt it was best. We still talked and dreamt about this little one forming and growing and starting making plans as we anticipated.

I was less than a week out from my first OB appointment because we could not calculate the date of conception correctly. I hadn’t even seen a doctor yet when scary things started happening. Over the weekend I started feeling very off, I felt off before any signs there was anything wrong happened. The feeling started on a Friday and mild spotting followed. Because spotting could be normal I tried to remind myself of this and just rest my mind. What started mild became much worse and alarming, enough to require an Emergency Room visit on Monday of the next week. There was nothing they could say, everything looked fine but my body said different. They told me it was “o.k.”. The ultrasound said I was still pregnant, they said I was fine but to go home and rest. They tried to assure me. I don’t know if it was that I knew different or that I couldn’t trust them in that situation, but I knew it felt like empty assurances. The next day I knew for certain, I cried and prayed for the bleeding to stop, for everything to go back to normal, rewind the last few days. It didn’t. I miscarried on Tuesday Morning. It was the worst and most painful experience and there is no point in sharing the minute details but know it was tramautic, emotionally and physically.

Not because I am super spiritual but there hangs a picture on our bathroom wall of a woman robed in white clinging to a rock amongst a lapping torrent of waves. The only thing I could think of was to stare at it and out of a need for comfort I started to sing Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in thee. I needed that rock for comfort in my time of need and sorrow.

So, on Tuesday Morning I knew and the Doctor confirmed it on Wednesday Morning. I felt like I couldn’t breathe, it still feels a little that way. The Doctor was telling me that it wasn’t my fault and there are the statistics and the good news was that it probably won’t happen again and I was screaming on the inside not knowing if I should sit and listen or run away and I was just trying to make it through the appointment, praying silently, without passing out.

Emotions are like a wave now, sometimes it hits me so hard I feel like I’ve been kneed in the chest and other times it’s a smaller ebb of pain intermingled with this growing peace. I prayed for peace and am still praying for peace, it comes, if you ask. It may take time for you to ask. It may take pain ebbs lessening, perhaps anger too, to learn to rejoice in the suffering and in your sorrow, but I am learning so much about the sweetness of God in even my sorrow. I need the reminders to myself.

Charles Spurgeon said “I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages.” and isn’t that such a beautiful quote. I hold that quote very close to my heart because I feel a lifetime of dissapointment with people, with the world and as I struggle with depression and recent events I need that rock. This is not a post about a miscarriage or loss really or definitely not a request for pity. This a post about learning to kiss the waves, those hideous waves.  This is an encouragement. It is about being sorrowful, yes, sorrow is appropriate and needed for healing but in that sorrow there is a source for that can bring joy and rejoicing despite it. I am preaching this to myself.

That title Sorrowful, Yet Always Rejoicing did not come from my own head, it comes from 2 Corinthians 6:10:

 As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.

This foreign notion that I could have sorrow and rejoice as well is not of the World. It is an otherworldly notion. It is a mark of a believer, joy.

C.S. Lewis said, “Joy is the serious business of heaven”

I have had to ask myself very recently, am I joyful person? I may look joyful on the surface, but am I truly joyful? The answer most times has been “No”. Truthfully, my human nature is one of a bitter, jealous and angry person. I am in need of that joy, desperately. Jesus is transforming me daily and I want to grasp and cling to that joy as slowly or as quickly, I pray, as it comes for me.

I am definitely not telling you to pick yourself up by the bootstraps, to just feel better, or that it’ll all work out or whatever bad advice you have been given. Well meaning people give a lot of bad advice. This is a hurting person saying that there is a source that can heal all wounds. There is a reason to rejoice in our suffering, believers.

There is a line in Rock of Ages that goes:

Could my zeal no respite know, Could my tears forever flow, All for sin could not atone; Thou must save, and Thou alone.

It may feel like tears will forever flow and I can’t tell you they won’t but we can learn from Christ and others that have gone before us to rejoice through our sorrow that there is nothing that this world can offer to heal my broken heart, to heal yours but there is one we can hide ourselves in, the Rock is cleaved for me, for you, for all that would plead for it. Thank God.

I am not trying to make anyone uncomfortable with this post but the fact of the matter that through this very personal suffering some things have become very clear to me about my personal faith and I can only respond to God’s grace with boldness. I can only want for you joy.  If you do not know the comfort of Christ in your situation and have long suffered or would like to know God, I want to pray with you, for you. Let us run to the throne and rejoice, the wonderful, frightfully beautiful throne of the Rock of Ages.

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I am sharing the artwork I made for this post. I hope it can be a comfort, as well as this song by Liz Vice that has brought me much comfort recently. Also if you like big words like Christian Hedonism you can read more about Sorrowful, Yet Always Rejoicing from people that know much more than I: The Ethos of Christian Hedonism; Sorrowful, Yet Always Rejoicing-John Piper

SYAR print 4×6

SYAR print 8×10

Also, I hope you like the new look to the site, I worked on it to make it more clean, readable and fit my aesthetic. Hope you enjoy.

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Faith, Family, parenting, Words & Meditations

mini idols

October 2, 2014
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This may possibly be an unpopular post, it’s definitely not a feel-good post. This is a post about the reality of Parenthood and the dangers we all face as believing parents when we make our children or our Parenthood greater than God. I will call them mini idols.

I brought this topic up at home group last night as we discussed Proverbs and heart idols. Parents, have we made idols of of our own children? I know as a parent it is easy to fall into the trap of loving my children best, thinking they are better than all other well-loved children. Of course this is common for parents, we think our children are the greatest things to walk this side of our spiral shaped galaxy and possibly beyond that. But what if they aren’t? What if are children are just like us, people that fall short? What if what society models as a parent is completely wrong?  What are we teaching them by elevating them to the highest points in our hearts and minds? What is it doing to our families? As a believer, what is the solution.

After bringing this topic up in home group last night, my friend Wendy sent me this article: How American Parenting is killing American Marriage. If you get a moment you should read it today. To summarize, the way we prioritize our children over everything else is hurting our Families, hurting our Marriages. It’s pretty taboo to say that you love your Husband/Spouse more than your children because we all know that ignoring one another for 18 plus years works wonderfully. It sounds like to the layman that you must hate your children, because obviously you hate your children if you happen to put your spouse first or even more shockingly God. Ayelet Waldman, who is not a believer that I know of, went on OPRAH to explain that she believed that loving her husband before her children has been a wonderfully healthy thing for her kids to witness, she received death threats and reports to Child Protective Services. Now, if a non-believer is telling us these things, how much more important is it for the believer to realize that God must be first then our Spouse and then our Children. I mean you don’t have to agree but this is biblical truth.

There are so many opinions on how we should raise children and there is no possible way to do them all, nor should the believer. Our Godly Mandates as parents should look foreign to the world. They may not like it. All the books by this Doctor or that Specialist are no match for Godly wisdom. Remember that worldly wisdom is foolishness. There is a grand story at work and we should be shaping our families with that mindset. American Society tells us that parental love looks like bussing your children around to all the things, giving them all the things, never letting them miss out or lose or be disappointed, keeping them cage in our homes and teaching them to be afraid of all the things, the list is longer, I’ll stop there. We need to be wary that this cultural example is contrary to a biblical one. We need to be careful that we aren’t forming mini idols based on culture and and our selfish desires.

There are many ways we can make children and Parenting our Idols. Christina Fox gives some examples in this post, more specifically for Mothers who seem to fall prey the easiest to this issue: The Idols of a Mother’s Heart (I’ll paraphrase):

-We can make Affirmation our Idol. We are affirmed in our beliefs about our children when family, friends or strangers tell us we are “doing a great job”, our kids are “pretty” or they are “well-behaved”. We can be prideful and desire affirmation more and more. We also can desire affirmation from our own children.

-“Our children in and of themselves can become idols.” Living for your kids and making them happy can become the most important thing in our lives, it’s a dangerous thing to do.

-Success. The “perfect family”, successful children, the “American Dream”.

-Control in every area of children’s lives, planning life out with no deviations or exceptions. This shapes the family dynamic causes us to fear, worry, have anxiety, and just plain grumpy.

When we make our Children or Parenting or Motherhood an idol in our lives we are setting a dangerous path for our children. Dissenters may say you cannot love your children too much, and of course that’s true, we can’t measure the love God has for us but what that looks like is obviously different then the love of the world. 1 Corinthians 13 is our reminder. As parents what does my love look like toward my child? Does it look the Father’s love?

My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives. Hebrews 12:5- 6 

Not only must we put God first and prioritize our family biblically we must not put our children so high as to forget that we are commanded to lead them and discipline them. A lack of discipline is not love, a choice to not discipline your child only offers greater hardship for them later.

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:11

I think it is clear but I just wanted to state that there is a difference between Discipline and Punishment, the first is corrective and the latter in Punitive, so on the other end we need to seek God in our parenting on how to do the first, we can go the other extreme and punish our children for our irritances with them. Godly love disciplines and reproves.

So back to making our children idols or role as a parent an idol, so how do we safeguard against these. I am a Mother so I tend to speak from that viewpoint a lot. We may all know Mothers occasionally that may have extreme views on this or that and let everyone know whenever they can, they might hold one of the previously listed idols of parenthood in their heart as the utmost importance. But it can be the quiet mother as well that holds their children idol in their heart. This is not a judgmental statement. this is the reality that we all can fall easily to idolatry of our children, our families, our role as parent. 1 Corinthians 10:14-18 states:

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?  Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. Consider the people of Israel:are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar? What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything?

We must be vigilant to keep ourselves focused on God and to keep our hearts tuned to Him. That is when our children will benefit. There have been many times where I followed my own selfish desires as a parent. My child is not perfect and it is foolishness to act like she is but also I have let my flesh anger toward my child when I should be leading her. I also fall to wanting to hear the affirmation that my children are “the best” or what have you. I need to pray for the Spirit to reveal the idols of my heart so that God can deal with them. We must be humble as parents as well, our children are not our own. They have been given to us, we do not deserve them and it is our duty to raise the according to the instruction of that Giver. Children will be formed by how their parents act, so in my humility must ask my daughters to forgive me when I have sinned in my parenthood.  Just like our children we need Godly reproof to battle the idols that pop up in our lives:

Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. Revelation 3:19

The only way we can can combat the idols of parenthood or our mini idols is to turn to God.

Faith, Family, Words & Meditations

count it all joy

October 1, 2014
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 There are times when joy seems fleeting and unattainable, those are the times that we must fight for joy. Joy should be our daily habit as a believer, even in tough and trying circumstances, joy in the Lord and what He has given us should sustain in our difficulties. But it is one of those “easier said than done” scenarios, so how do we develop the habit of joy even when we don’t feel like, how do we instead of our grumbling turn to joy instead when the paths get rocky and undesirable?

 I’ve talked a little bit before about counting your blessings or counting it joy it tough times, specifically depression. And since this post (like most of my posts) is largely a “preaching the Gospel to myself” type of post I am revisiting the topic in a very much-needed way.

I do not know in what ways you struggle right now, I do want to encourage to reframe our suffering in a Kingdom perspective. God did not promise us easy living regardless what prosperity preachers and bad theologians may tell you. To say that God plans an uncomplicated and painless life is to say the Bible is wrong when it teaches us in 1 Peter 4 that suffering and trial is indigenous to the believer. I won’t talk much on teaching contrary to 1 Peter but I will say that God’s plan looks much different than streets of “wordly” gold but that we would rejoice as we share in Christ’s suffering and that we would Glorify God through it all and entrust ourselves to Him.

C.S. Lewis wrote about grief and suffering in his book about his late wife, A Grief Observed. I once read the sentence ‘I lay awake all night with a toothache, thinking about the toothache an about lying awake.’ That’s true to life. Part of every misery is, so to speak, the misery’s shadow or reflection: the fact that you don’t merely suffer but have to keep on thinking about the fact that you suffer. I not only live each endless day in grief, but live each day thinking about living each day in grief. I know that that struggles, sadness, grief, whatever it may be feel like this all too well. It is a pervasive wart on our mind and it causes us to worry and stress and lament over things that can not be changed by our worry or stress or lamentations. C.S. Lewis also wrote these words about it which are a comfort to me; We were promised sufferings. They were part of the program. We were even told, ‘Blessed are they that mourn,’ and I accept it. I’ve got nothing that I hadn’t bargained for. Of course it is different when the thing happens to oneself, not to others, and in reality, not imagination. Sometimes I need that reminder that this was in the design and I need to realize that it is “part of the program”. 

SO how do I take those steps to reframe my circumstances and count it all joy like the exhort from James 1:2Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. An obvious option here is to firstly look at the life of Paul who understood what that looked like. In 2nd Corinthians Paul talks about his countless beatings, imprisonments, punishments, dangers, near death experiences but says all of this not for pity but boast not in himself but in his weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. It’s not something we can do on our own, it’s about turning to a big God and trusting that He is big.

In our turning to God I think it’s important, at least for me, to remember that there are so many already good and beautiful things that I have been blessed with and I am blessed with these things because God gives these good things to me. I need a habit of joy and thanks. I need to fight for it in my life. Ann Voskamp says It’s habits that can imprison you and it’s habits that can free you. But when thanks to God becomes a habit —  so joy in God becomes your life. 

A very practical way to keep a habit of joy is to keep a list or journal instances of joy or gifts that God has given as they happen or as God opens our eyes to their presence in our lives. I’ve recently started again to write out the things gifts in my life that I am thankful for, the little seemingly insignificant things that might not matter to others or previously to myself. The things also that may not have seemed as blessings before but truly where. I truly have so many more joys than hardships. God is blessing the believer even through our suffering, we may not be able to see it but the Word and the Holy Spirit will reframe our minds to see the things we missed before.

I probably will share some of my private journaling via the blog and instagram using the hashtag, #thebensonsarethankful. I encourage friends to join me privately or publicly, I would love to have some friends to encourage and be encouraged by.

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Today, I am thankful for:

Coffee with Whipped Cream and a husband that makes it for me in the morning.

Hot Water, our water heater has been broken, so hot water and Bubble Baths

Television, yes, television, I was able to finish this post because my children are watching Daniel Tiger.

Morning hugs from my girls

Dimples, specifically Alice’s dimples.

This Weather, I want it forever.

Provision for today

sisters that love each other

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Let me leave you with the these words from a recent Desiring God post by Vaneetha Rendall that really shook me:

Habakkuk models this exchange beautifully. Though he had pleaded with God to save his people, he closes his book with this exquisite “even if” . . .

Even if the fig tree does not bloom and the vines have no grapes,
even if the olive tree fails to produce
and the fields yield no food,
even if the sheep pen is empty
and the stalls have no cattle—

Even then,

I will be happy with the Lord.
I will truly find joy in God, who saves me. (Habakkuk 3:17–18)

Amen.

“Even If”, not just “What if”, things transpire that are out of my control “I will be happy with the Lord. I will truly find joy in God, who saves me”. I don’t think there is anything else to say.

 

Recipes

It’s fall…Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte

September 19, 2014

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So I post this recipe every time fall comes around because it’s fun and easy to make and we all know the Pumpkin Spice craze is upon us. I originally made this for Verge Magazine based on a thekitchn recipe and it was a pleasure, so I hope you enjoy making it at home.  The recipe follows:

Pumpkin Spice Latte (original found via thekitchn.com)
makes 1-2 servings
Ingredients:
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons canned pumpkin OR 1 teaspoon of Torani Pumpkin Spice Syrup (your choice)
2 tablespoons sugar or sugar substitute – you can halve this amount
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or a ½ tsp. of a homemade mixture of 3 parts equal nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice this is what I did and can’t imagine pumpkin pie spice could taste much better, leave extra for the sprinkling on top of your whipped cream)
1-2 shots espresso (about 1/4 cup of espresso or 1/2 cup of strong brewed coffee if you don’t have an espresso machine.)
Directions:
In a saucepan combine milk, pumpkin and sugar and cook on medium heat, stirring, until steaming. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and spice, transfer to a blender and process for 15 seconds until foamy. If you don’t have a blender, don’t worry about it – just whisk the mixture really well with a wire whisk.
Pour into a large mug or two mugs. Add the espresso on top.
Optional: Top with whipped cream and sprinkle pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, or cinnamon on top.

I love making this every year and if you do please let me know how it it is, hopefully yummy.

This have been a little crazy here lately and I haven’t posted as much but have a lot of posts in draft, so look forward to more. love.

 

Faith, Family, parenting, Read This

What you do when your child wakes everyone in the house at 4:30 screaming that you stole their fan.

August 21, 2014
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The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

Luke 6:45

 Ok, so the title pretty much sums up the story but if you want to know the details… Emma, my 7-yr-old wakes up today at 4-ish to screaming that she can’t sleep but it didn’t end there, and when I say screaming, I mean screaming, waking up the whole house including a baby that should not be awake at 4:30. She proceeds to tell me that I stole her fan. This is the deal with the fans, it’s hot, I mean stifling, around 100 highs and so we have the fans out to help with the heat at night. There are two identical fans except for one has a knob on the top and one has the knob on the back. Somehow in moving fans around the house the last couple days that fans got switched around. Eithe

r fan is no one’s possession except for the Benson household. They blow the same amount of air about, so I was very angry at 4 in the morning.

So what did I do when she woke up screaming that I stole her fan?  I am not writing this post because I am some sort of parental authority. This like a lot of posts are written to help myself walk through things mentally and a way to preach to myself truth which I very much forget at 4 in the morning after a night of bad sleep already.  So, that being said, I screamed back at this 7-yr-old because I was angry and it was the absolute wrong thing to do. I screamed and showed no Grace because I was tired and bothered. I screamed because I had to now but a restless baby back to sleep. This is after I blew up at her last night for repeated disobedience. I needed to have a talk with myself.

Let’s talk about the heart of the matter, well our hearts, that’s the matter. I’ve been going through my head all morning and read the word and read a little of a biblical parenting book I’m reading and it gave my mind perspective that I may have already known but choose to ignore in these incidents. So, last night and this morning I needed to ask my daughter for forgiveness for anger towards her. It truly is a humbling experience to ask your child for forgiveness, and I know a lot of people may be uncomfortable with the idea but it is a biblical one.

My plea for forgiveness from my Daughter is not because she should get her way in everything and so my offense was not allowing her to do that. I sinned against her because the Word says so. Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear,slow to speak, slow to anger;  for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.It is actually quite the opposite, we talked about our hearts and why we do the things we do, why we sin against each other, and because grace was not shown. So knowing what I did wrong I woke seeking the word and resolve to ask my daughter for forgiveness. We had a great talk, Emma shared with me that she was only thinking about herself and that she was sorry for waking us all up. She asked me for forgiveness and I instructed her what she should do. Emma happily accepted my apology and hugged me. I am always amazed how freely she loves and forgives and shows me grace. I’m just a bitter old lady in comparison.

In Shepherding a Child’s Heart, Tedd Tripp says this: Correction is not displaying your anger at their offenses; it is rather reminding them that their sinful behavior offended God, It is bringing the censure of sin to these subjects of his realm. He is the King They must obey.

I am a learn-on-the-go type of person, I have to learn things the hard way in order for me to truly get it. This whole parenting thing, it’s so hard. I am thankful for people on my life and a few people that have written books that point me back to the Word, Christ. Thank you all.

So here are a few of those books that are really helpful for those that  struggle like me and need a little helpful prodding, knowing the Bible first as well of course:

-Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp – I am reading this right now and it has been very revealing especially in this season of life.

-Give Them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson- This is a great guide to showing Grace to your kids, it’s incredibly truthful and biblical. There is a very, very helpful chart in the back that helps me sometimes when I get flustered what to do in a particular situation.

-Grace-Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel- This was the first book I read that truly diagnosed my heart as a parent and got to root of it, Sin. I am thankful for having been introduced to this book in a time I really needed it. Many people confuse Grace  with permissiveness or lack of discipline but this book helped me see that is a gross misunderstanding of the word, and help me to form my thoughts as a Christian Parent.

So thank you all for joining in this journey with me as a Parent, I am flawed but He is perfect in my place. The image above is of Emma playing sweetly outside this morning after our talk. Alice is still asleep, God is good.

 

Charlotte Mason, Homeschool- Charlotte Mason

Charlotte Mason-Year 2

August 14, 2014
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I was tempted to name this post homeschooling-on-the-cheap-2.0, but I didn’t because I realize that because I already had a lot of the resources listed and even though it’s still going to be very cheap for anyone to do this exactly, (it’s next to nothing for us). Plus I wanted to focus on the Charlotte Mason-ness of it all. Firstly, if you do not know who Charlotte Mason is, take a look here: What is CM?. In short though, Charlotte Mason was a Christian British Educator that believed that Education was more than Education but it was a Discipline, a Life, an Atmosphere. So, In essence it’s a lifestyle over a curriculum. I’ve loved Miss Mason for many years know and am learning more through her writings and my Charlotte Mason Peers and Elders. So, there are a few things I adding this year that we didn’t get to in the last and hoping for a really well rounded CM Education this year. We will call last year our Grace Year because there was a lot of Grace given and desired, so we have got to get on it this year with a better plan of action. I am also writing out this blog post not just for anyone who cares about Charlotte Mason-Year 2 but to help me to break it all down in my head for the very soon School Year. *AO means Ambleside Online. We use Ambleside Online as a Charlotte Mason guide and substitute only a few selections. Unless otherwise stated everything is from the Ambleside Year 2 Schedule and not from my own brain, just so you know.

Bible- We are going to stick with Gospel Story Bible and Long Story Short Devotional for this year and I may backtrack a little because we grazed over a few weeks quickly last year. The Bible and the Devotional are a wonderful tool for Parents wanting to paint the stories of the Bible truthfully and make beautiful connections from Old and New Testament. The Long Story Short version is for Old Testament and there is version for the New Testament, but it will be a while until we are there, although it teaches a lot of the New testament along side the Old, and that’s what I like about this study. We do use more of a Charlotte Mason-Narration approach with the reading and I use the questions as more of a guide. We will also be using Sojourn’s North Star Catechism for our Bible Memory Work and because I really wanted to go through a Catechism for Children with Emma so she has very clear answers to questions she may have or encounter.

Character- O.k. so most Charlotte Mason families do one Character per month to Study and move on. We’ve realized that just doesn’t work in the Benson Household, Soooo…We do one Character until Emma gets it, like really gets it and then moves on. Last Year towards the end of the year we we’re doing Obedience (Doing what you are told with a happy, submissive spirit). We talk about First-time Obedience here a lot and that is what is expected of Emma. Meaning that  we don’t tell her time and again to do something, if she doesn’t listen that first time there are usually some light consequences that will come of that. TV is the first to go and let me tell that usually is enough. She has the concept down now and can tell me the meaning of Obedience and that is what is important, so we are moving on. Anyways, We will start the Year with “Contentment” (Happy with what I have), because we’ve got a bit of a whining problem in regards to not being happy with things and then move on to “Joyfulness”. The Definitions come the Child’s Book of Character Building.

our History journal from the beginning of last year

History- This is where we differ with the AO schedule quite a bit because I needed something to ease into History with the last two years and the Beautiful Feet guides are very nice and just self-explanatory for this Mom-Brain. We bought the Early American guide two year ago and held it until last year to start and we are continuing in Jamestown. I usually borrow the books or find them used. You can purchase the book pack but I save a lot of money this way.

Literature- More Shakespeare this year with about six more plays, I already own the Lamb’s Shakespeare edition and we will just continue with that version because it tells the plays in story form. We are also still going through Parables of Nature but will let her listen to the Audio Books this year so I don’t have to read yet another book aloud. We will also be reading Pilgrim’s Progress, Robin Hood, Understood Betsy, and Wind in the Willows, which I’m excited about all of those selections.

Geography- We will use these free CM and Long’s Geography for the year based on the AO schedule.

Natural Science/ Nature Study-We will read the Burgess Animal Book along with Tree in the Trail and Seabird, both by Holling. We also be Nature journaling weekly together, we do Nature study at our yearly co-op and plan to review at home as well. vscocam1 (1)

Copywork/Phonics/Reading- Emma is a slow-to-read child and that is ok, no guilt here. We do a reading lesson a day and intersperse copywork. Right now we have moved on from only doing the McGuffey’s Primer for Phonics/Reading to doing Explode the Code because she actually needed something a bit more worksheet-y, against all my CM judgement. It’s not as twaddle-y as I suspected and she seems to be really improving. We will still use readers like the Mcuffey’s Readers or Pathway Readers (just the readers, no workbooks) as we go through the year, but they are free or very cheap and I am not to worried at the cost. We will also start copywork in a copywork book, something like this from Simply Charlotte Mason. Math- We will still use MEP Math, which is a free program that is highly recommended, but I also ordered the first Life of Fred book called Apples and am considering rotating between the two for variety because the MEP math can get tiresome for us.

Poetry, Art and Composer: I combine all of these because we will be doing these at co-op and just reviewing at home. Our schedule for these are as follows (from the AO schedule): Poetry-Walter De La Mere, Shel Silverstein (this is a replacement for Witcombe-Riley), and Christina Rossetti, Art-Fra Angelico, Velasquez and Degas, and Composer- Hildegard Von Bingen, Children’s Classics (assorted classics for children), and Sergei Rachmaninoff.

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Free Reads: We definitely plan on finishing a few Summer reads like Peter Pan and Mr. Popper’s Penguins beside that (from the Ambleside site) I am not sure if we will get to all these but we will try, we also own quite a few of these books already so between those, the local library and the local bookstore I don’t imagine the cost being that high:

Heidi by Joanna Spyri, A Wonder Book by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Tanglewood Tales by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Five Little Peppers and How They Grew by Margaret Sidney, Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tales, Pied Piper of Hamlin by Robert Browning, Five Children and It by Edith Nesbit, Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder, The Story of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting, Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers, Brighty of the Grand Canyon by Marguerite Henry, Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard Atwater (currently reading), Otto of the Silver Hand by Howard Pyle, Chanticleer and the Fox (various authors), Along Came A Dog by Meindert De Jong, and The Door in the Wall by Marguerite De Angeli

Handicrafts: I did a lousy attempt at teaching Emma sewing last year because we had a baby most of the year and things like Handicrafts and Piano took a backseat to Reading and Literature. We are going to start over this year with the Mary Frances Sewing Book. It’s online and free and reads like a Story Book that has sewing projects in it. I am going to put together a dedicated Sewing Basket for Emma but that will be the only cost. The file of the book is a scan of an old copy archived digitally and has a signature in it of the author, “For all the girls who love to make pretty things.  Jane Eayre Fryer”, that’s just lovely.

Piano: We will continue with My First Piano Adventures, a fun hop through Piano basics and music reading.

Drawing: Kenny has recommended this for the year and since he’s also an atrist and pretty darn good illustrator, we are doing it. How to Draw Amazing Animals

Foreign Language: Spanish is our foreign language because Im Half-Latin and I really wished I was more fluent growing up. We will do a mixture of the Gouin Series we did successfully last year and Mango languages which is free through our local Library.

Well now that I completely overwhelmed you with all of that information I am going to tell you its not as hard as it seems, the AO schedule rotates readings and material and it really is very easy to follow. When it comes to putting my head on straight for the year and planning the order of the day, I go to this very wise post by Nancy Kelly, my favorite Charlotte Mason blogger: Our Schedule, Our Atmosphere. It’s a breath of fresh air and I’ll talk more about ordering the homeschool day as the year progresses. So take a deep breath friends and know if we cover only half of this material I think we are in a wonderful place still. I mean can you say you did half of this stuff in second grade?  It really is a lovely education and Emma will be introduced to a lovely feast this year. Posts your thoughts and comments, I’d love to hear what you are doing this year.

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You can see a visual catalog of all the resources on my Pinterest Board-Charlotte Mason- Year 2